(crossposted from Green Mountain Daily)
W-w-where has we heard this before?
"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way."Well, they're not talking about wiretap this time - but this comes closer than my comfort zone allows. By a fair piece.
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.Maybe I'm just being difficult, but it would seem to me the LAST thing we would EVER want to do is in any way soften the Fourth Amendment "in response to law enforcement concerns."
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.
When I led the effort to write the ECPA 25 years ago, no one could have contemplated these and other emerging threats to our digital privacy. But, today, this law is significantly outdated and out-paced by rapid changes in technology and the changing mission of our law enforcement agencies after September 11. At a time in our history when American consumers and businesses face threats to privacy like no time before, we must renew the commitment to the privacy principles that gave birth to the ECPA a quarter century ago. That is why I am working to update this law to reflect the realities of our time.Emphasis mine. So much for that, I guess.
The delay comes two days after a phalanx of law enforcement organizations objected to the legislation, asking Leahy to "reconsider acting" on it "until a more comprehensive review of its impact on law enforcement investigations is conducted." The groups included the National District Attorneys' Association and the National Sheriffs' Association.Troubled by all this?
In an unusual procedural twist, the groups have no objections to Netflix's effort to upgrade the Reagan-era law. What worries them is an unrelated bill -- which Leahy glued onto the video privacy measure -- requiring police to obtain search warrants before accessing files stored in the cloud, including e-mail.
Just remember the old adage:
If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about.
Keep calm, and trust the government.