Sen. Patrick Leahy

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
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes Exactly. But with the defenses, hard to see an injunction burden being met.
1mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes Not to mention the actual public figure blah blah blah that will lead the defense. Meh.
11mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes I think that's debatable, but assuming so, what are provable damages in an election context?
12mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz The Guantánamo Tapes http://t.co/r6JfRJl7r4 Yes, of course force feeding tapes depict torture, why you think govt fights to keep classified?
21mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @gideonstrumpet @ScottGreenfield @LilianaSegura @roomfordebate My entry up:More Catcalling Debate Room Needed at NYT https://t.co/8k1CNdwGhx
35mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @gracels @benjaminwittes @wellsbennett Somewhere there is video, but here is the story http://t.co/hT7quBWnxh
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @gracels @benjaminwittes @wellsbennett You will probably want to match that with a "Lawfare Drone Smackdown" sweatshirt.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @SunsetGunShot: That time I talked to William Friedkin about how The Exorcist effed me up, and more. Happy Halloween. At Sunset Gun. htt…
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @JamesRisen: It will cost $60,000 per reporter to cover Obama's next Asia trip. That will be a good time to have cake instead of ask que…
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @nytimes: Iran Hints at Possible Release of Washington Post Correspondent Soon http://t.co/WdAoRcjKq3
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @jeremyscahill: This is a significant point that @emptywheel is highlighting about decision to drone kill US citizen: https://t.co/h7WWK
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @gracels @benjaminwittes @wellsbennett No no, this is freaking awesome.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
November 2014
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30