As this is being written, it's been a few days since we have been left “unprotected” by the full force of the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act," or commonly known as the Patriot Act.
The main “appropriate tool” that has legally expired is metadata collection. As a refresher, this data mining is said by the government to be impersonal in nature and therefore of no threat to lawabiding Americans. Cell phone records such as who you call and who calls you, plus duration and location of communications is not considered an infringement of privacy of any real consequence. The NSA has insisted that they do not conduct warrantless eavesdropping on our actual phone conversations but then again, a similar denial was made concerning metadata collection before Edward Snowden revealed otherwise.
The odd thing is, that the trolling of bulk data isn't even mentioned in the original Patriot Act. Verbal sleight of hand is used to imply otherwise. Section 215 of the Patriot Act is claimed by the White House to be the “legal basis” for metadata collection. Since virtually no one is going to read that section or any portion of the Patriot Act, the claim of “legal basis” is accepted as correct or at least plausible.