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The USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048, Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 114–23 (text) (PDF)) is a U.S. law enacted on June 2, 2015, that restored and modified several provisions of the Patriot Act, which had expired the day before. The act imposes some new limits on the bulk collection of telecommunication metadata on U.S. citizens by American intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency. It also restores authorization for roving wiretaps and tracking lone wolf terrorists. The title of the act is a ten-letter backronym (USA FREEDOM) that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015.
|Other short titles||Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015|
|Long title||An Act To reform the authorities of the Federal Government to require the production of certain business records, conduct electronic surveillance, use pen registers and trap and trace devices, and use other forms of information gathering for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal purposes, and for other purposes.|
|Acronyms (colloquial)||USA FREEDOM Act|
|Enacted by||the 114th United States Congress|
|Statutes at Large||129 Stat. 268 (2015)|
|Acts amended||Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978|
USA PATRIOT Act
USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005
National Security Act of 1947
Fair Credit Reporting Act
|U.S.C. sections amended||12 U.S.C. § 3414|
15 U.S.C. § 1681u
18 U.S.C. § 2709
18 U.S.C. § 3511
50 U.S.C. § 1881a, and others
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The bill was originally introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress on October 29, 2013, following publication of classified NSA memos describing bulk data collection programs leaked by Edward Snowden that June. When it was re-introduced in the 114th Congress (2015–2016), it was described by the bill sponsors as "a balanced approach" while being questioned for extending the Patriot Act through the end of 2019. Supporters of the bill said that the House Intelligence Committee and House leadership would insist on reauthorizing all Patriot Act powers except bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Critics assert that mass surveillance of the content of Americans' communication will continue under Section 702 of FISA and Executive Order 12333 due to the "unstoppable surveillance-industrial complex" despite the fact that a bipartisan majority of the House had previously voted to close backdoor mass surveillance.
The USA Freedom Act mandates that the FISA court release "novel" interpretations of the law, which thereby sets precedent and thereby makes up the body of FISA court common law, as both legal authority for deciding subsequent cases, and for guidance parameters for allowing or restricting surveillance conduct. The Act is not clear as to whether or not it mandates retroactive disclosure of decisions prior to passage of the Act in 2015. In October 2016, the ACLU filed a Motion for the Release of FISA Court Records to release interpretations prior to the USA Freedom Act.
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