CNET

ECPA Amendments and Privacy in a Post Petraeus World

One of the issues making the rounds like wildfire today was a report from Declan McCullagh at CNET regarding certain proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The article is entitled “Senate Bill Rewrite Lets Feds Read Your E-mail Without Warrants” and relates:

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. (CNET obtained the revised draft from a source involved in the negotiations with Leahy.)

This sounds like the predictably craven treachery that regularly comes out of Senate, indeed Congressional, legislation on privacy issues. And exactly what many had hoped would cease coming out of Washington after the public scrutiny brought on by the Petraeus/Broadwell/Kelley scandal. And, should these amendments make it into law, they may yet prove detrimental.

But there are a couple of problems here. First, as Julian Sanchez noted, those abilities by the government already substantially exist.

Lots of people RTing CNET’s story today seem outraged Congress might allow access to e-mail w/o warrant—but that’s the law ALREADY!

Well, yes. Secondly, and even more problematic, is Pat Leahy vehemently denies the CNET report. In fact, Senator Leahy does not support broad exemptions for warrantless searches for email content. A source within the Judiciary Committee described the situation as follows: Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @B_D_Silver And when Hillary DOES win nomination, having had Bill make this attack makes him a fair target.
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emptywheel @B_D_Silver Consensual sex? Absolutely not. Unclear why having ANY man be voice of complaints of sexism, & press rel w/Bill usu skeptical
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emptywheel "Bill Clinton says there is sexism in only one campaign and I will write that down like a good little journalist." https://t.co/Ns7cxFO7hE
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emptywheel Apparently some reporters don't see the irony in repeating claims Bill Clinton makes about sexism unquestioningly.
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emptywheel NSA’s Funny Description of the Job that Required a Controversial Reorganization https://t.co/gJeZJJnQrV Reorg to "enhance" cybersecurity
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emptywheel I don't defend the hack of DHS & FBI info. But how is posting name, title, email, & phone of govt employees "doxxing"? It's a phone book.
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emptywheel @onekade Um, @SenTomCotton assuredly doesn't want peace. His backers are heavily invested in war.
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emptywheel Here's what NSA claims its missions are, which is of course bullshit. https://t.co/nWLeWBrB0s https://t.co/qQi7PywZaM
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emptywheel Sounds like the same McKinsey folks who reorganized CIA got to NSA as well. https://t.co/nWLeWBrB0s https://t.co/uCHp0Bwjm6
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emptywheel Somehow info-sharing didn't manage to prevent the hack of FBI and DHS info. https://t.co/bD0A0WiIQh
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emptywheel @sethwulsin God, that most unforgiving of Emergency Managers.
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