The FISA Amendments Act, which has been in effect since 2008, has been extended for another five years by a US Senate vote. The vote turned out to be 72 to 23 to extend the FISA Amendments Act for five years until December 31,2017.
The act allows the US to warrantlessly spy on phone calls and email communications made by American citizens with foreigners abroad, when there’s reason to believe that terrorism is involved.
A quote from a Mashable article on the extension:
As part of the monitoring program, the government can get court orders — which do not require probable cause, like typical search warrant — to access citizens’ phone calls as well as electronic messages such as emails, provided there is evidence those communications involve “foreign intelligence information.”
The trouble with the act is that a single FISA order can affect a large portion of the US people, without being specific on what is involved in the communications – just ‘foreign intelligence information’ is sufficient.
Read more on the FISA Admendments Act extension on the Electronic Frontiers Foundation website here (written before the Act was extended).