Senate panel to cops: "You need search warrants for e-mail."
- A Democrat US Senate panel shockingly votes to require search warrants for the government to spy on your e-mail.
- Idiot Republicans like Senator Chuck Grassly tried to weaken privacy protections. Apparently Grassley never read the Bill of Rights.
Police State - The rapid goosestep march to a bi-partisan police state slowed just a tiny bit.
A U.S. Senate panel approved a landmark privacy bill that would curb law enforcement's warrantless access to the contents of e-mail, private Facebook posts, and other data that Americans store in the cloud.
The real test for upholding the Bill of Rights will come when the full Senate and GOP House casts their votes.
The voice vote was a victory for a coalition of technology firms including Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, which had urged Congress to update a 1986 law to reflect changes in technology -- and preserve the same privacy rights that Americans enjoy if their files are printed out and stored in a cabinet at home.
"We have to update our digital privacy laws if we want to keep up with rapid changes in technology," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who's the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee reports CNET News.
Bill of Rights - Privacy against government searches
The Electronic Communication Privacy Act could undergo a slight change; the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed an amendment that would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant to be able to sift through your online data. Since most personal information has gone online, many believe this bill is a vital component to Internet discretion and now heads to the Senate then the House.
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The panel approved the measure despite objections from law enforcement groups, which had sent a letter to the committee yesterday that was cited by Republican Senator Chuck Grassly. Grassley offered an amendment that they had suggested, which failed to be adopted, that would have weakened privacy protections in "emergency" circumstances.
Senators are "abdicating our duty if we do not examine the concerns raised by federal and state law enforcement," Grassley warned. They have raised "important questions and ones we should be prepared to address" in an open process, he said, not through "concerns that were raised in the media in the draft of the legislation that was leaked last week."
That's a reference to a CNET article that disclosed Leahy had reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns to grant more than 22 federal agencies -- including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission -- warrantless access to the contents of Americans' e-mail and other private communications.
In response to a public outcry critical of that warrantless access proposal, including a petition that garnered nearly 8,000 signatures, Leahy abandoned it and did not offer it for a vote today.
Leahy glued his privacy amendments onto a Netflix-backed proposal to amend the 24-year-old Video Privacy Protection Act by giving customers the option of Facebook integration. The combined bill now goes to the Senate floor for a vote, which is unlikely to take place this year. (Even if it does, the incoming head of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, has signaled he wants to take more time to review it.)
The proposal to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, would require federal, state, and local police to obtain a search warrant from a judge based on the traditional standard of probable cause before accessing files stored in the cloud, including e-mail, which echoes a 2010 ruling from a federal appeals court.
Complicating the situation is that the Justice Department has opposed requiring search warrants for e-mail. James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, warned Congress that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an "adverse impact" on criminal investigations.
|Let's face facts. Most members of Congress give lip service to that oath to protect the Constitution. Both parties have been falling all over each other to expand and fund an unconstitutional centralized Big Brother police state.|