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 RT @ddayen: Ocwen backdated mortgage denial letters so homeowners didn't have time to appeal, says NY regulator @benlawsky http://t.co/AuXE
4mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @photomeisterAZR @michaelbkiefer @TomTingle2 @azcentral @12News Is that Nurmi in foreground??? If so, what happened, he get an ID change?
36mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @Rockmedia: @bmaz Please advise your friends. http://t.co/TSFalnJ9pP
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @lrozen Wasn't it DOD?
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel At least plane was able to fly out of Pyongyang. I mean getting stuck in Vienna while Iranians fly away is one thing. But NK would be worse!
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @subverzo That's the best part of it! Also working under a different authority than NSA is limited to.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Another Attorney-Client Conversation Spied On https://t.co/pYV1ZgU0iY FBI seems to like spying on targets' convos w/immigration attorneys.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel We can only aspire at this point. RT @bmaz: @SchuetteOnDuty Someday, your state too can be as enlightened as Arizona.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @McBlondeLand @OscarPistorius @reevasteenkamp That's going to work out to about 10 months in prison, the rest on house arrest.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @emptywheel @MonaHol @SchuetteOnDuty Someday, your state too can be as enlightened as Arizona.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @amk44139 No. They already posted. No decision.
4hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MonaHol It's like @SchuetteOnDuty WANTS Michiagnders to be backassward troglodytes or something.
4hreplyretweetfavorite
October 2014
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031