The Senate has voted to move forward with the consideration of the USA Freedom Act, which is a move that will end the highly controversial collection of phone records. However, leaders of the Senate were not able to reach agreements that would have prevented the expiration of several provisions of the Patriot Act before the deadline.

One of the immediate impacts is the expiration of the "lone wolf" provision, which allows intelligence agencies and law enforcement departments to use surveillance on suspected terrorists that are acting alone, with no connections to other countries or terrorist groups. The provision states that it does not apply to citizens of the United States, and officials of the White House have said that the provision has never been used.

The "roving wiretap" provision has also expired, which is a provision that allowed agencies to do surveillance on a specific individual as opposed to a certain phone or device. This would allow the government to monitor suspected terrorists over all the phones they use, though the surveillance requires approval from a federal court.

The Patriot Act's Section 215 has also expired, with this section being the most controversial and debated one as it is the basis for the collection by the National Security Agency of phone records from millions of Americans.

Other powers granted by Section 215 that has also ceased include the ability of the CIA and FBI to collect other kinds of information. Examples of such activities include the CIA's tracking of financial data, including wire transfers, to trace terrorist networks, and the FBI's acquisition of the Internet business records of companies.

However, all ongoing investigations of phone records acquired under the now-expired Section 215 will not immediately cease, as a clause within the Patriot Act provides the NSA with the power to continue the investigations that it has started.

The USA Freedom Act will eventually resume the phone records program, along with other government powers, but in another form. According to Senator Rand Paul, the bill will ultimately be passed, after the Senate voted in favor to take up the reform legislation at 77 votes for and 17 votes against.

President Barack Obama has been a vocal supporter of the Freedom Act, and the vote by the Senate to move the bill forward is a partial victory for the president.

Obama has pushed for the Freedom Act as a form of compromise to address the privacy concerns of the people, which has grown since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations of the government's surveillance activities two years ago, while maintaining the country's capabilities of protecting itself from terrorist attacks.

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