A bill to extend the life of three provisions of the Patriot Act was defeated at the US House of Representatives on Tuesday. The bill was short of 284 votes to pass, although it required only two-third majority.
The three surveillance tools proposed are said to be vital measures to the country's post-September 11 anti-terror law in order to prevent future attacks. Critics however feel that such measures infringe human rights and civil liberties. They opined that application of such tools will promote government invasions of individual privacy.
Of the three provisions, the first provides for roving wiretap surveillance of suspects who attempt to thwart Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance. CNN (Washington) reports that without this tool, which falls under Section 206 of the Patriot Act, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone or computer that needs to be monitored.
The provision (Section 215) allows the FBI to apply to the FISA court to issue orders permitting the government access to any tangible items in foreign intelligence, international terrorism and clandestine intelligence cases.
Under the third provision, referred to as the lone wolf provision (Section 6001), a non-US citizen who engages in international terrorism or activities in preparation for international terrorism is deemed to be an agent of a foreign power under FISA.