Sen. Leahy wants to read your emails without a warrant

If the CNET story is true, what was Democratic Senator Leahy thinking?

Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans’ e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.

Now an unnamed aide is saying that no, the story is not accurate.  But we need to hear a lot more directly from Senator Leahy. It should be an easy question to answer – are you letting people read our email without a warrant or not? – without requiring “unnamed aides.”

We’ve known for a while that it’s not just Republicans who want creepy laws that spy on Americans, though hopefully this time it’s all just a big mistake. Following an election where progressive ideas and candidates won across the US, it’s really disappointing to read this news.

Internet spying via Shutterstock

Maybe this is what Justice Department officials want, but is this what voters want?

Even with the Justice Department, it’s not obvious why they would want this kind of power, since they couldn’t even figure out how to regulate and/or pursue Wall Street. So why would we want to give these federal agencies, who so often fail so badly, even more power?

This stinks, but welcome to the wobbly Democratic leadership. And so soon after the election, no less. Why should we vote for anyone who supports such garbage?


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.”

Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to “reconsider acting” on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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