A U.S. secret court has extended until June 1 the controversial bulk collection of private phone records of Americans by the National Security Agency.
The government said it had asked for reauthorization of the program as reform legislation, called the USA Freedom Act, was stalled in Congress. The bill would require telecommunications companies rather than the NSA to hold the bulk data, besides placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.
An added urgency for Congress to act comes from the upcoming expiry on June 1 of the relevant part of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the bulk data collections. Under a so-called “sunset” clause, the provision will lapse unless it is reauthorized in some form or the other by legislation.