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The "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing is Strength Act" would have amended the USA Patriot Act to allow financial institutions to share information with law enforcement agencies and one another regarding suspected "activities that may involve terrorist acts, money laundering activities, or a specified unlawful activity. (Photo: File)

US House Squashes Yet Another Attempt to Expand Patriot Act Powers

Orwellian "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing is Strength Act" fails to garner two-thirds majority

Deirdre Fulton

A bill critics said would expand Patriot Act surveillance went down in the U.S. House Monday night after failing to garner the necessary two-thirds support of the chamber.

The "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing is Strength Act," HR 5606, would have amended the USA Patriot Act to allow financial institutions to share information with law enforcement agencies and one another regarding suspected "activities that may involve terrorist acts, money laundering activities, or a specified unlawful activity."

Previously, such sharing was allowed regarding only "terrorist acts or money laundering activities."

The final vote on the bill, which was considered under a fast-track process that required it to amass a two-thirds majority for passage, was 229-177.

Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.) led the opposition, saying the legislation expanded the Patriot Act to let the government "demand info on any American [without] due process."

According to The Hill:

The House Liberty Caucus, chaired by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), said the bill should have been considered in committee and warned it could allow the government to access Americans’ financial information based on what appears to be suspicious activity.

The caucus also panned the decision to consider the bill, which was introduced two weeks ago, under the fast-track procedure which also prohibits amendments.

"The Patriot Act should not be casually expanded," the caucus said in a statement. "In short, if the regulations issued under the bill are consistent with current regulations, H.R. 5606 will permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion."

The bill—and its Orwellian title—also drew the attention of privacy advocates like digital rights group Fight for the Future.

This isn't the only recent attempt by Congress to expand the snooping powers of the Patriot Act. The U.S. Senate failed to pass a similar effort last month.


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