CISPA Allows Database Searches Without a Warrant

The Fourth Amendment is so old-fashioned


A controversial data-sharing bill being debated today in the U.S. House of Representatives authorizes federal agencies to conduct warrantless searches of information they obtain from e-mail and Internet providers.

Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, proposed an one-sentence amendment that would have required the National Security Agency, the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies to secure a "warrant obtained in accordance with the Fourth Amendment" before searching the database for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Grayson complained this morning on Twitter that House Republicans "wouldn't even allow debate on requiring a warrant before a search."

That's a reference to a vote this week by the House Rules committee that rejected a series of privacy-protective amendments, meaning they could not be proposed and debated during today's floor proceedings. Another amendment that was rejected would have ensured companies' privacy promises—including their terms of use and privacy policies—remained valid and legally enforceable in the future.