U.S. Congress extends key provisions of anti-terror law

08:56, February 18, 2011      

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted to extend key provisions of an anti-terror surveillance law for three months, sending the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The Republican-led House voted 279-143 to extend three provisions of the Patriot Act, which are set to expire on Feb. 28.

The provisions being extended through May 27 allow authorities to use roving wiretaps to track an individual on several telephones; collect business documents and other materials; and track foreigners suspected of being "lone-wolf" terrorists not tied to an established terrorist group.

This was the second House vote on the extension of the Patriot Act provisions. On Monday, the House approved an extension until Dec. 8, but the Senate amended it to an extension through May 27, forcing the lower chamber to reconsider the measure.

The Patriot Act, signed into law by then president George W. Bush in October 2001, dramatically expanded law enforcement agencies' authorities to search telephone, e-mail communications, personal and business records, among others. It's been strongly criticized for its infringement of personal privacy and human rights.

The White House hopes to extend these provisions through December 2013 to provide more certainty and predictability that intelligence and law enforcement agencies require to fight terrorism.

Source: Xinhua

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