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 It's amazing that @ESPN can't quite get the feed on the ASU/Huskies game right for squat, but they can always, oh so easily, parrot Goodell.
10mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @teddysanfran: @bmaz I wonder if she saw it coming? http://t.co/sTrMmqBMB4
12mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Say what you will about Obamacare, but internet+media fanboys saying Dems losing ground in both House+Senate is "winning" issue are insane.
16mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @WilliamsJon: CDC: Health Care Workers volunteering to combat #Ebola epidemic in West Africa are heroes. We must treat them with respect…
17mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @ninatypewriter: I'm just gonna keep on tweeting about this until @MSF_USA nurse Kaci Hickox is out of that fucking tent.
31mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn Also can't wait for the next time @speechboy71 opportunistically wants to shit on my family
32mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Perfect question. My guess is NO! RT @teddysanfran I wonder if she saw it coming? http://t.co/3slVw6xNUO
35mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Hey @AdobeFlash you asswipes are terminally hashing on my internet mellow. If you are going to be ubiquitous, try not to be such dickheads
36mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn And, hey, no reason for other fanboys to call @speechboy71 out for inconvenient bullshit.
52mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn Guess when yer a soul patched whiz kid of internet like @speechboy71 you can shit on others
54mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @teddysanfran: I wonder if she saw it coming? http://t.co/sTrMmqBMB4
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn I'd have to be senile and willing to lie out of my ass like @speechboy71 but, hey, someday.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
October 2014
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031