• The US Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved S. 193, the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011, to modify and reauthorize three surveillance-related provisions of the Patriot Act. The legislation, if voted by the full Senate and the House of Representatives, would extend through 2013 several of the Act’s provisions concerning roving wiretaps, surveillance of terrorist suspects not connected to a known terrorist group (known as the “lone wolf” provision), and provisions addressing business records. Absent Congressional action, those provisions will expire in May of this year. In addition, the bill would modify the Act by adding a requirement for law enforcement to provide a statement of facts showing reasonable grounds to believe that the information sought is relevant to an authorized investigation in order to obtain access to an individual’s telephone records. The bill’s supporters stated that these modifications will strengthen privacy safeguards and oversight. The Committee also approved an amendment that would conform the law’s requirements to the current practices of the Obama administration, including the requirement to include a description of a suspect before any “John Doe” roving wiretap requests may be granted. To view the bill, click here.