US President Barack Obama has called on Congress to renew legislation which allows the National Security Agency to continue its controversial phone records collection.
“I expect them to take action, and take action swiftly,” Obama said on Friday, as the Senate has until midnight Sunday to act.
Obama warned that inaction to extend key Patriot Act provisions, which can extend the program for two months, could hinder counterterrorism efforts by the NSA.
He said that there are only a “handful of senators” who are blocking the extension of those provisions.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the NSA to collect any telephone and business records relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.
The section, which expires at midnight on May 31, was rejected by the Senate on May 23. The vote was 45-54, which fell short of the 60-vote threshold.
“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away, and suddenly we’re dark,” Obama said.
“Heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity, but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate,” the US president added.
The data collected by the NSA includes phone numbers and duration of a call without its content or personally identifying information.
Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, disclosed the extent of the agency’s spying activities in June 2013. He leaked classified intelligence documents showing massive collections of phone records of Americans and foreign nationals as well as political leaders around the world.
By Press TV