Feeds

Permanent Pat Act a done deal as Senate caves

Signed, sealed, delivered next week

The next step in data security

The US Senate has approved a new version of the so-called "Patriot" Act at last, by a vote of 89-10. After months of stalling and pointless posturing that made two temporary extensions of the previous version necessary, Senators knuckled down and gave the Bush Administration what it has been asking for all along.

Although the Senate did tack on a few cosmetic improvements, such as an exemption for libraries from warrantless searches and a provision allowing victims of national security letters to challenge in court the automatic gag order attached to them, the bulk of the Act's more objectionable provisions are now set to become permanent.

The Senate version is now close enough to the House version to be approved in the House and sent to the White House, where it is certain to be signed, most likely next week.

Apparently, there are only two possibilities in the minds of the Act's Republican backers: a powerful police state, or mass extinction at the hands of terrorists. As US Senator James Bunning (Republican, Kentucky) explained, "civil liberties do not mean much when you are dead."

Meanwhile, US Senator Arlen Specter (Republican, Pennsylvania), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has spoken of holding hearings with a mind to creating new legislation that will undo some of the serious damage done to civil liberties and necessary checks on government power by the Pat Act.

Whether that will amount to more than a theatrical exercise might depend on how far Congress goes in investigating the Bush Administration's illegal domestic spying racket via the NSA. House Republicans are likely to turn that into a whitewash, so there's little chance that indignation will spill over into momentum useful for getting the Pat Act under control. Still, it could happen, and is an outcome worth hoping for, at least. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.