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

Home - by - November 20, 2012 - 16:15 America/New_York - 24 Comments

Cnet

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.


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.

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.


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 that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. 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.

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 boastedlast 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.


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h/t  Torey Dawn

» 24 Comments

  1. Tim

    November 20th, 2012

    Somebody tell me, again, about We the People …

    and how our gov’t is NOT a criminal enterprise.

    Thumb up +7

     
  2. hanoverfist

    November 20th, 2012

    More and more like China every day.

    Thumb up +7

     
  3. Mountain Dog

    November 20th, 2012

    They will keep pushing for total control. It is a constant fight we face to keep our freedoms.

    Thumb up +4

     
  4. tenmegaton

    November 20th, 2012

    Hope they are not offended by foul language.

    Thumb up +5

     
  5. Brian in BC

    November 20th, 2012

    Explain to me how you can initially present a bill with one intent, then completely reverse the intent of the bill for the vote?

    When are the torches and pitchforks coming out?

    Thumb up +7

     
  6. RANDO

    November 20th, 2012

    Isn’t this how they got Petraeus?

    Thumb up +3

     
  7. Joe

    November 20th, 2012

    From now on, watch your remarks on Obama. Let’s all talk about Leahy from now on. Allen West was right… there are 80% of them in Congress.

    Thumb up +5

     
  8. Death_By_Farts

    November 20th, 2012

    Not to worried about that Joe…Good luck with them tracing my screen name to my e-mail or home address..

    Thumb up +1

     
  9. Racist

    November 20th, 2012

    Explain to me how you can initially present a bill with one intent, then completely reverse the intent of the bill for the vote?

    Because apparently the fuckwad Lehay just really wants to have his name on “Some” piece of legislation. Who gives a crap about the details, it’s all about the power trip the needle-dick lil’ fag must get from “making the rules”!

    When are the torches and pitchforks coming out?

    Well my pitchfork has been out for two days now, clearing brush and debris. But that ain’t what I plan to use when the delusional psychopaths in Washington finally get what’s coming to them!

    READ THAT MFers!!! Take it any way you want to and then come and show me how you “rule” over me! I only answer to One Ruler, and I’m guessing He’s already pretty fed up with Marxist Muslim Tyrants messing with His children right about now!!!

    Thumb up +5

     
  10. Dismas In Wonderland

    November 20th, 2012

    Bait, and switch it’s the Obama way.

    Thumb up +3

     
  11. Houston

    November 20th, 2012

    Mountain Dog is right, expect it to keep coming. I only hope the House has the gonads to vote it down.

    Thumb up +2

     
  12. Doc

    November 20th, 2012

    This reminds me a lot like Germany 1939!

    Thumb up +5

     
  13. Annie

    November 20th, 2012

    So, if am email is offered into evidence, how would one prove one did not write it, that it is false evidence?

    Thumb up 0

     
  14. Zonga

    November 20th, 2012

    What is wrong with you people?

    The Patriot Act allows the federal police to enter your home for a sneak peek without a warrant and other violations of your Constitutional rights.

    Jug ears recently gave himself the power to order extrajudicial execution of US citizens, and we can be held without charges indefinitely.

    Thumb up +2

     
  15. Carlos The Jackal

    November 20th, 2012

    “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.”

    However, an “adverse impact” on our Constitutional right to privacy and protection against illegal search and seizure is A-OK!
    I hate these tyrannical bastards more and more every day.

    Thumb up +2

     
  16. solomon

    November 20th, 2012

    yea good. Now we can see exactly what these narcissistic scumbags are into, just like Anthony Wiener the perv. I bet Leahy wears women’s undergarments and sniffs dryer lint from public inner city laundry mats.

    Thumb up +1

     
  17. Kairn

    November 20th, 2012

    I think this is drastically horrible, however it doesn’t seem like people (other than the smarmy Patraeus crowd) are even using email any more.

    Dont laugh, but I seriously think we need to restart a pony express mail service again. Passenger pigeons, bike riders, foot runners, smoke signals…(encrypted) drumming? ;-)

    Thumb up 0

     
  18. Ma Deuce

    November 20th, 2012

    Leaky Leahy – I thought the old fossil had died.

    Thumb up +1

     
  19. RANDO

    November 20th, 2012

    Why is this post here, as well as “sticky”?

    Thumb up +2

     
  20. FreeMan & Sarah Intend to Defend

    November 20th, 2012

    Hi Zonga, Grrrrrrrllll!!!

    This is clearly Bushes fault. Why does he need to keep spying on us after 4 years of the most open, honest, respectful of others, Prezzy the world has ever known?

    I sure hope Holder gets to the bottom of who is doing all this illegal spying in the Prezzy’s next 4 years. This Bush has got to stop spying on us.

    Thumb up +2

     
  21. Unneutral

    November 20th, 2012

    I doubt they are gonna want to hear what I have to say about them……

    Then again, they are so mired in their own self-absorption my words and thoughts would be readily used against me.

    Let the revolution begin.

    Thumb up 0

     
  22. Zonga

    November 20th, 2012

    Hey FreeMan! m-m-m-m-m-m!

    Let’s not forget that under jug ears Congress voted to make the Patriot Act permanent and Ryan, yea, the one from Romney & Ryan, voted for it.

    So, I don’t understand why the people here are getting bent over email. AT&T invited the Feds into their phone exchanges years ago so they could listen into phone calls.

    Who thought email was private anyway? Ha-ha-ha only morons.

    Thumb up 0

     
  23. Blink

    November 20th, 2012

    Transparency and Open Government
    Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and agencies
    SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

    My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness….
    Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for (about) citizens..

    The mistake was thinking Obama meant openness in government as stated. It is the citizens he wants to be transparent. Not government persons and agencies.

    Thumb up 0

     
  24. Nutjob

    November 20th, 2012

    Good as long as he allows us to read the whitehouse or congressmens emails, don’t have a problem.

    Unless they have something to hide?

    Thumb up +1