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Senate votes to extend electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens

December 28, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • The Senate approved a five-year extension of a law that allows the government to monitor the electronic communications of suspected terrorists without obtaining a warrant.
The Senate approved a five-year extension of a law that allows the government… (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press )

The Senate approved a five-year extension of a law that lets the government conduct electronic communication surveillance of suspected terrorists without obtaining a warrant.

The bill reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, passed by a vote of 73 to 23 early Friday. Passed by the House earlier this year, the measure now heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it. Without the extension, FISA would expire Tuesday.

The law allows the government to monitor phone calls, emails and other types of electronic communications between suspected terrorists and U.S. citizens. Privacy advocates have criticized the law, saying the government can abuse it because investigators don't need a judge's approval to conduct surveillance.

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The Senate on Friday rejected proposed amendments that would have added protections -- such as regular reports to Congress on the surveillance of U.S. citizens. Supporters of the bill argued that haggling over the amendments would delay extending the law before it expires, according to The Hill

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