How we hardly knew you…
This according to Scott Shackford on Reason.com:
In 2011, Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act, which would require authorities and law enforcement to get a search warrant to access private electronic communications.
The bill is now finally up for possible vote next week. In the year since the bill was first introduced, there have been some significant revisions. Declan McCullagh at CNet explains:
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.
It’s an abrupt departure from Leahy’s earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill “provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by… requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.”
So apparently the Department of Justice objected to having to take the time to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Fourth Amendment and claimed it could have an “adverse impact” on investigations. Rather than responding, “Yes, that’s the point,” Leahy capitulated.
Among the others agencies that could potentially get access to your private emails and documents are the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as the Federal Reserve.
I’ve written before that Congress has disregarded the First Amendment. And I’ve written on how you can know your rights should you be contacted by authorities for any reason. The Fourth Amendment is pretty cut and dry:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
So Senator Leahy tried to do something good. When he was pushed, instead of standing up, he capitulated. And now, if the bill passes, the Government will have unfettered access to your electronic communications.
Never mind that the government has been involved in warrantless wiretapping since 9/11.
Now, they’re about to codify it into law. They’re about to tell you that they can read your emails, see the exchanges you have with friends and family on Facebook, and read the documents you store on Google Docs without your knowledge, permission, or a warrant.
Frankly, I’m surprised they just don’t come right out and say they have no regard for the law anymore. But as they say, actions speak louder than words. And the actions of all of our so-called “Representatives” in congress are speaking volumes.
All I have to say about this is: Come back with a warrant.
UPDATE: If you want to contact your representatives in government and tell them you oppose this legislation, FreedomWorks has set up an easy form for you to use. As of this writing there are over 2,500 messages sent.