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Sunday, July 21, 2013

A bill that everyone should support

It doesn't go far enough. Still, it is welcome.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing to fast-track legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages.

Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) goal is for the Senate to unanimously approve his bill before the August recess, according to one of his committee aides. Any opposition could delay a vote until after Congress returns in the fall.
Leahy's bill would not affect the NSA programs, but it would curb the ability of local and federal law enforcement officials to access private online messages.

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, police only need a subpoena, issued without a judge's approval, to force Internet companies to turn over emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old.

When lawmakers passed ECPA more than 25 years ago, they failed to anticipate that email providers would offer massive online storage. They assumed that if a person hadn't downloaded and deleted an email within six months, it could be considered abandoned and wouldn't require strict privacy protections.

Leahy and privacy advocates argue that ECPA is woefully out of date and that police should need a warrant, based on probable cause and approved by a judge, to read a person's emails.
Again: This bill does not address the topic of the NSA's cyber-totalitarianism. Still, if Ed Snowden's revelations have done anything to aid the progress of this legislation, he has performed a useful function.

By the way: Please notice that the threatened filibuster of the Leahy bill is a Republican thang. Keep that fact in mind the next time you hear a conservative squawking about the dangers of Big Gubmint. Conservatives love big government -- why else would they object to a law that says cops should get a damn warrant before reading your mail?

And keep this Republican filibuster in mind the next time some pseudo-liberal ratfucker tries to beguile you with the Standard Issue "Both Parties Are the Same" Speech.
Did you bother to read down further into the story as to what the GOP exception was? Or that Mary Jo White, head of the SEC, a lifetime Democrat and appointed by Obama, has the same reservations?
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