President Barack Obama on Saturday signed into law legislation that would temporarily extend three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act that had been set to expire.
The House took final congressional action on the measure on Thursday, voting 315-97 to keep in place the Patriot Act’s “lone wolf,” business records and “roving wiretap” powers until Feb. 28, 2011. The Senate had passed the bill by voice vote Wednesday night.
Here is a summary of the provisions that were due to expire:
- Lone wolf: Allows the government to track a target without any discernible affiliation to a foreign power, such as an international terrorist group. The provision applies only to non-U.S. persons. The government has never used it.
- Business records: Allows investigators to compel third parties, including financial services and travel and telephone companies, to provide access to a suspect’s records without the suspect’s knowledge.
- Roving wiretaps: Allows the government to monitor phone lines or Internet accounts that a terrorism suspect may be using, regardless of whether others who are not suspects also regularly use them. The government must provide the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court with specific information suggesting a suspect is purposely switching means of communication to evade detection.