Declan McCullagh

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

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bmaz Best Andrew Malcolm comment ever: https://t.co/8BQS17EGuI
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bmaz @emptywheel No no, closer to futuristic mountain house on top of Mary Jane!
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bmaz @AriMelber @starwars @NBCNews Cool! Looks like you are in a futuristic ski shack on the top of the double diamond bump runs.
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bmaz Says one of the leaders of the Clinton cabal relentlessly disseminating divisive+dishonest slime against Sanders. https://t.co/majCPWauIJ
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bmaz @yvonnewingett @aliarau "Only more tax cuts can cure this!" Says Doug Ducey+Kook GOP leadership as @LaurieRoberts calls them.
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emptywheel Observation abt last night's debate: There's a tie between explicit racism & torture, as latter was long a tool in enforcing white supremacy
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec Really nutty thing for Mitchell to say.
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emptywheel RT @smotus: Let's just dispel this notion that Peyton Manning doesn't know what he's doing. Peyton Manning knows exactly what he's doing.
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emptywheel A deer blind, but for human voters. https://t.co/nijczePaGs
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emptywheel @lizzwinstead Snyder going to attempt to blame O. That narrative must be constantly rebutted @JordanAckerMI @Eclectablog @amy10506 @LOLGOP
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emptywheel @JordanAckerMI Thanks--fair explanation. Does that the pressure bc real in August? Sept? @amy10506 @Eclectablog @lizzwinstead @LOLGOP @MIGOP
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emptywheel @JordanAckerMI Q that has me worried abt Hillary visit, btw, bc it may make Fed $ less likely @Eclectablog @lizzwinstead @amy10506 @LOLGOP
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