Senator Pushes Bill Allowing Warrantless Reading of E-Mails in the U.S.
November 20, 2012 10:23 AM
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Senator Patrick Leahy (D, Vt.), seen here in a cameo in The Dark Knight, was "pressured" by National District Attorneys' Association and the National Sheriffs' Association to change the language of the privacy bill
(Source: Warner Bros.)
Bill originally added protection for e-mail
Talk about a bait and switch.
is reporting that Senator Patrick Leahy (D, Vt.), who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has revised legislation he proposed previously that originally claimed to protect e-mail privacy of American citizens. That proposal has been rewritten, and now allows for law enforcement officials to
read your e-mails without a warrant
The bill is scheduled for a vote next week and was reworked after the National District Attorneys' Association and the National Sheriffs' Association made it clear that they were concerned about increasing difficulty gaining access to e-mails for criminal investigations. The rewritten bill would give access to e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter messages to 22 different government agencies without the need for a search warrant.
The rewritten bill would also allow the FBI and Homeland Security additional authority in certain circumstances to access accounts on the internet without notifying the owner or needing approval by a judge.
The original legislation proposed would've required police to obtain a search warrant and have probable cause before they were allowed to read the contents of e-mail or other digital communications.
Senator Leahy previously said of his legislation, "[The bill] provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by... requiring that the government obtain a search warrant."
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11/20/2012 1:40:04 PM
The problem is that when you have investigators whose lives are steeped in paranoia, they often see sinister clues in the innocuous.
Buffalo man Muktar al-Bakri went to Bahrain and sent his friends an E-mail. It said he was going to get married and that he wouldn’t be seeing them for awhile. The CIA, who had been monitoring his E-mails, understood this to be a coded message: he was about to launch a suicide attack on the US Fifth Fleet. They believed that the word “wedding” was a code. They believed that the phrase “not seeing you anymore” indicated that Mr. al-Bakri was a suicide bomber and that the "big meal" was the US fifth fleet.
The CIA then arranged for a commando team to be flown to Bahrain to storm his hotel and detain him. The Bahrainian commandos were surprised to find him and his wife in the process of undressing to consummate their marriage. The reality is that he was in Bahrain to get married and the consequence of him getting married was that he wouldn't be returning to Buffalo.
"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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