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The federal government’s authority to gather vast quantities of phone records in the hunt for terrorists expired at 12:01 a.m. Monday after Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, blocked an extension of the program during a dramatic Senate session on Sunday, reports The New York Times.

By blocking the extension, Paul, also a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, forced the temporary expiration of parts of the post-September 11 Patriot Act used by the National Security Agency to collect phone records, writes The Times.

Later this week, the Senate is scheduled to pass legislation that would curtail the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program, shifting the storage of telephone records from the government to the phone companies, notes the news outlet.

From The New York Times:

“Little by little, we’ve allowed our freedom to slip away,” Mr. Paul said during a lengthy floor soliloquy.

The expiration of surveillance authority demonstrates a profound shift in American attitudes since the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when national security was pre-eminent in both parties. Fourteen years after that attack, even as American conflicts continue abroad, a swell of privacy concerns stemming from both the vast expansion of communication systems and an increasing distrust of government’s use of data has turned those concerns on their head.

While it would represent a retrenchment on the part of the government, it does not end the argument over the dual imperatives of security and individual liberty brought to light by Edward J. Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency.

Do you agree with Sen. Paul? Sound off in the comments.



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Sen. Rand Paul Temporarily Blocks Patriot Act Phone Data Collection  was originally published on