Fury erupts over Sen. Patrick Leahy’s bill on email privacy; Update: Leahy scraps bill?

Senate Democrat Patrick Leahy has opened himself up to a firestorm of criticism for a proposal that critics say would allow the widespread surveillance of online communications — including email, Facebook, Google Docs, and Twitter DMs — to 22 federal agencies without a warrant.

Via CNET:

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.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, tweeters on the right and left have joined together to denounce what the proposal, which they consider an affront to First and Fourth Amendment rights.

A Senator Leahy staffer has taken to Twitter to try to defend the bill.

Few seem convinced.

Expect the furor surrounding this story to intensify as the proposal heads for a vote on the Senate floor next week.

***

Update:

That was fast. Faced with near-universal backlash, Leahy has apparently scrapped the proposed bill:

Leahy’s about-face comes in response to a deluge of criticism today, including the ACLU saying that warrants should be required, and the conservative group FreedomWorks launching a petition to Congress — with over 2,300 messages sent so far — titled: “Tell Congress: Stay Out of My Email!”

This revised position will come as a relief to privacy advocates and business lobbyists, who have been scrambling since last week to figure out how to respond to Leahy’s revamped legislation. Some portions would have imposed new restrictions on law enforcement, while others would lessen existing ones, making the overall bill unpalatable to many groups.

Leahy’s proposal would have allowed over 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 have given 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.

Let’s hope the intrusive proposal is indeed dead in the water.

  • Leroy Whitby

    Warrantless reading of e-mails. Left treats it like it’s nothing. Damned fascists.

  • Leroy Whitby

    Warrantless reading of e-mails. Left treats it like it’s nothing. Damned fascists.

  • http://twitter.com/dianna_walker Dianna Walker

    Patrick Leahy needs to be immediately recalled and removed from his post. This is beyond reprehensible! Any Person who votes on this bill should be removed right along with him! STOP THIS BILL!

  • JustLikeAnimals

    Hahahaha!!!!! Liberals are soooooooo confused!!!
    Personally, I don’t care. If you want to read all my comms knock yourself out. I lead an extremely boring life online. But I find it overwhelmingly ironic that the same liberal left that extends the government’s reach into every nook and cranny of daily life is shocked and disturbed when one of their own takes the opportunity to extend that logic into the areas of data mining and public/private oversight.

    But the confusion of his logic is astounding…….”The whole impetus of Senator Leahy’s efforts to update #ECPA is to remedy the erosion of the public’s privacy rights”/

    Apparently by eroding them even further. What genius!!!!!!!!

    And people wonder what’s wrong with our country…….Stupid humans.

  • JustLikeAnimals

    Hahahaha!!!!! Liberals are soooooooo confused!!!
    Personally, I don’t care. If you want to read all my comms knock yourself out. I lead an extremely boring life online. But I find it overwhelmingly ironic that the same liberal left that extends the government’s reach into every nook and cranny of daily life is shocked and disturbed when one of their own takes the opportunity to extend that logic into the areas of data mining and public/private oversight.

    But the confusion of his logic is astounding…….”The whole impetus of Senator Leahy’s efforts to update #ECPA is to remedy the erosion of the public’s privacy rights”/

    Apparently by eroding them even further. What genius!!!!!!!!

    And people wonder what’s wrong with our country…….Stupid humans.

  • Fire and Adjust!

    Pat……………. please review the 4th amendment to the Constitution of the United States and its specified requirement for a court issued writ (WARRANT) to conduct ANY search that does not involve consent, plain view, exigent circumstances, or incidents to a lawful arrest……… also feel free to review the concept of ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’……………..once you’ve done this, please review your obvious lack of ability to govern within the confines of the law and voluntarily remove yourself from office……….

    • Zanshi

      I suspect this would have been a 9-0 smackdown by SCOTUS. Even to liberals, this was unpalatable and unacceptable.

  • Fire and Adjust!

    Pat……………. please review the 4th amendment to the Constitution of the United States and its specified requirement for a court issued writ (WARRANT) to conduct ANY search that does not involve consent, plain view, exigent circumstances, or incidents to a lawful arrest……… also feel free to review the concept of ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’……………..once you’ve done this, please review your obvious lack of ability to govern within the confines of the law and voluntarily remove yourself from office……….

  • freeinaz

    Let’s count the constitutional amendments current under attack from this regime: 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 10th. I suppose Leahy would be the first to offer up all his emails, both private and government, so the American people can review them to see if this is a viable bill to pass.

  • freeinaz

    Let’s count the constitutional amendments current under attack from this regime: 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 10th. I suppose Leahy would be the first to offer up all his emails, both private and government, so the American people can review them to see if this is a viable bill to pass.

  • Steve_J

    Once again “Leaky” Leahy earns “The Duece”.

  • Steve_J

    Once again “Leaky” Leahy earns “The Duece”.

  • http://twitter.com/Evilpa Ann

    Keep on them, they will try to find another way to get it in under our noses. Be vigilant!

  • stuckinIL4now

    I saw the big headline on Drudge first-thing this am with the link and a photo of Harry Reidiculous with the customary doofus look on his face and wondered how they’d get that one past the House. Maybe they should scrap Leahy (and Reid) while they’re at it.

  • Grumpa Grumpus

    They’ll be quiet for a little while, until vigilance naps.

    Then they’ll breaak the bill into pieces and put it inside other bills so they’ll eventually get what they want.

    Start encrypting EVERYTHING!

    I do!

    And I use the strongest I can manage even if it’s only a “To Do” list.

    I’ll give’em a sour stomach trying to figure out what to concentrate on so even if they go brute force they’ll have to decrypt down to my 2003 Dry Cleaning list to figure out what’s important!

    I never throw anything electronic away. I just buy bigger HDs.

    Let them sift through a few terabytes of data secured with high end encryption.

    That’ll sprout those ulcers!

    (Tip:
    There’s a utility for Linux called “touch” that alters the timestamp on a file. You can tell it to hit all the documents on your HD.)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HQFQ343P6BBWDGP5QQXFPF2HKI Jack

    Sen. Patrick Leahy should be put in prison immediately for conspiracy to commit treason against American Citizens. Surely this story is a joke! What are these people thinking?

  • $1014973

    Can someone tell me why a lefty puke like leahy would be in favor of this big brother gem?

  • http://granitegrok.com/author/mike Mike Rogers

    So. If the author is Leahy, do we call that bill a privacy leak?