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: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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emptywheel @onekade Me, to driver when I got back in car: I think I just said blowjob on TV. Him: Don't worry, it's cable. @alexisgoldstein @jamyerson
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emptywheel @onekade But producers were screaming at Hall and Shuster "Apologize!!!" so Hall did. @alexisgoldstein @jamyerson
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emptywheel @onekade Oh, I DEFINITELY didn't even apologize. Took me the whole ride home to figure out what I did wrong. @alexisgoldstein @jamyerson
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emptywheel As a reminder, today is dragnet renewal day (8th since Snowden). A good opportunity for Verizon to challenge the dragnet on Yates grounds.
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emptywheel Tim Edgar on why Yates might pose problems for phone dragnet. http://t.co/CGe0JlHsc0 Think it's more interesting for data flow.
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emptywheel @alexisgoldstein Marcy & Alexis are damned lucky that's cable and no longer a massive fine for potty mouth. @JAMyerson @onekade
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emptywheel @JAMyerson Anyway, clearly @alexisgoldstein and I are destined to be on some cable show together. @onekade
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emptywheel @JAMyerson It was very creepy. Producers were going NUTS in their earpieces but I was remote & clueless. @alexisgoldstein @onekade
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emptywheel @alexisgoldstein I should have called Spitzer Client 9 as I almost did if I wanted to compete w/you. @onekade @JAMyerson @CNN
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emptywheel @alexisgoldstein Man, that's a better reason to get yourself quasi banned than my blowjob comment was. @onekade @JAMyerson @CNN
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emptywheel RT @onearmedmaninc: EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Judge's Data Secretly Scanned in $9.8B Chevron Fight http://t.co/iy2TyMQyg9 via @CourthouseNews
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