1984: Senate Bill to protect privacy allows the government to read emails without a warrant.

KRSOne

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Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans' e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.

by Declan McCullagh
November 20, 2012 4:00 AM PST

Sen. Patrick Leahy previously said his bill boosts Americans' e-mail privacy protections by "requiring that the government obtain a search warrant." That's no longer the case.
(Credit: U.S. Senate)


A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week

Leahy's rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies -- including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission -- to access Americans' e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.

CNET obtained a draft of the proposed amendments from one of the people involved in the negotiations with Leahy; it's embedded at the end of this post. The document describes the changes as "Amendments intended to be proposed by Mr. Leahy."

It's an abrupt departure from Leahy's earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill "provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by... requiring that the government obtain a search warrant."

Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys' Association and the National Sheriffs' Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to "reconsider acting" on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.

One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy's original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an "adverse impact" on criminal investigations.

Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said requiring warrantless access to Americans' data "undercuts" the purpose of Leahy's original proposal. "We believe a warrant is the appropriate standard for any contents," he said.
An aide to the Senate Judiciary committee told CNET that because discussions with interested parties are ongoing, it would be premature to comment on the legislation.

Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that in light of the revelations about how former CIA director David Petraeus' e-mail was perused by the FBI, "even the Department of Justice should concede that there's a need for more judicial oversight," not less.
Markham Erickson, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. who has followed the topic closely and said he was speaking for himself and not his corporate clients, expressed concerns about the alphabet soup of federal agencies that would be granted more power:

There is no good legal reason why federal regulatory agencies such as the NLRB, OSHA, SEC or FTC need to access customer information service providers with a mere subpoena. If those agencies feel they do not have the tools to do their jobs adequately, they should work with the appropriate authorizing committees to explore solutions. The Senate Judiciary committee is really not in a position to adequately make those determinations.​
The list of agencies that would receive civil subpoena authority for the contents of electronic communications also includes the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission.
Leahy's modified bill retains some pro-privacy components, such as requiring police to secure a warrant in many cases. But the dramatic shift, especially the regulatory agency loophole and exemption for emergency account access, likely means it will be near-impossible for tech companies to support in its new form.

Full Article
 
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LiddyRules

I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
Jun 1, 2005
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#5
I thought you were going to stop acting like an asshole after the election?
Kirk? Kirk's kirkiness has practically nothing to do with politics. He exists outside the conventional Democrat/Republican battle
 

Norm Stansfield

私は亀が好きだ。
Mar 17, 2009
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#6
I don't understand what the problem is. He just posted a legitimate article, about a legitimate issue.

I'm gonna give the kid one of them likes.
 

Yesterdays Hero

She's better than you, Smirkalicious.
Jan 25, 2007
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#7
Stop trolling and trying to start a flame war in every thread. If you have nothing to add, don't post.
Every thread you've ever made is trolling. So how about you stop crying like a little bitch with a skinned knee and take your hits. Sack up Nancy.
 

Josh_R

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Jan 29, 2005
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#8
This is a pretty big issue. Luckily the bill was retracted after the outrage started.
 

JoeyDVDZ

That's MR. MOJO, Motherfucker!
Aug 20, 2004
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#9
I was reading about this one myself... was a legit concern. Imagine if you inadvertantly got on some government douchebag's radar, and he decided to scope out everything you put online? With this bill, he could do it with absolutely no consequence. Kirk is right to point this one out. It's something our government is actively trying to push through. Thank doG the backlash shot it down before it could grow legs.
 

the Streif

¡¡¡¡sıʞunɹɹɹɹɹɹɹℲ
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Aug 25, 2002
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#10
I was reading about this one myself... was a legit concern. Imagine if you inadvertantly got on some government douchebag's radar, and he decided to scope out everything you put online? With this bill, he could do it with absolutely no consequence. Kirk is right to point this one out. It's something our government is actively trying to push through. Thank doG the backlash shot it down before it could grow legs.

Perhaps you could invite the government over to your house and get them to do a warrantless search of that safe you have there buddy.
 

Norm Stansfield

私は亀が好きだ。
Mar 17, 2009
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#11
Perhaps you could invite the government over to your house and get them to do a warrantless search of that safe you have there buddy.
Great surprise safe reference. Never saw it coming.
 

d0uche_n0zzle

**Negative_Creep**
Sep 15, 2004
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#12
I've always assumed that every email and phone call is logged into an NSA supercomputer for further use in the future.