Warrants

Bill to Require Warrants to Read Old Emails May Be Dead

Senate amendments attempt to increase government snooping authority.

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Sen. Mike Lee
U.S. Senate

The idea that police and prosecutors should have to get warrants in order to access and read citizens' old emails seems so obvious and mandated by the Fourth Amendment that nobody in the House of Representatives voted against The Email Privacy Act when it made it to the House floor in April.

It is nevertheless probably dead.

To explain: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 established that stored communications held by a third-party provider were no longer subject to warrants after 180 days. It's a rule that seems crazy now, but it preceded a world where nearly everybody had home computers, easy Internet access, and permanent email storage. Privacy-minded legislators have been working to fix this loophole now that it clearly represents a significant violation of citizen communication privacy.

But it appears it is not in the cards. The House version passed 419-0. But when it got to the Senate, sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the amendment process happened and it looks like everything went to hell. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) attempted to add an amendment that would expand the authorizations for the government to use National Security Letters (NSLs) to collect data about a target's internet browser history in secret and without warrants. So in legislation intended to safeguard citizen privacy from unwarranted snooping, a senator added an amendment to do the exact opposite.

As a result, Lee and Leahy have asked for the legislation to be pulled from the agenda, making its future unclear. On Facebook. Lee posted his frustrations:

A lot has changed since we have updated the laws that govern the privacy of our electronic communications. I challenge all of my colleagues in the Senate to talk to their constituents and try to find anyone who agrees that it is a good idea that their online communications should be private for only 180 days. I think they will struggle to find one person who agrees that online privacy should have an expiration date. I am disappointed that some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee killed a common-sense update to our privacy laws that passed the House of Representatives 419-0.

If you think what Cornyn's move was bad, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is even worse. Feinstein said she wouldn't have voted for it anyway. Why? Because there are some regulatory agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that don't have the authority to serve warrants, and this rule could hamper their attempts to get information to use for civil actions. That is to say, Feinstein believes that individual civil liberties should be subservient to the convenience of government bureaucracies. No wonder she's on Reason's list of "45 Enemies of Freedom" and was ranked by readers among the 10 worst.

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  1. That is to say, Feinstein believes that individual civil liberties should be subservient to the convenience of government bureaucracies.

    This is doctrine for the modern Democratic party. Anything that even smells of hamstringing the regulatory state is verboten.

  2. What’s the point of this? We already have the 4th amendment. Mere laws can’t override the highest law of the land, so this is a rather meaningless exercise. The government has demonstrated its willingness to ignore the Constitution time and time again, so even if this bill passed, the government would just ignore it.

    Unless there are real punishments for ignoring the law, and a willingness to actually carry out those punishments, then these bills are entirely pointless.

    1. We need something on paper to protect our rights.

    2. They don’t even have the excuse to search these old E-mails because its an emergency or a time bomb is about to go off since they are old E-mails.

      Every one of these judges, politicians and bureaucrats should be fired for violating their oath to the Constitution

      1. “Fired” like Joan of Arc?

  3. So in legislation intended to safeguard citizen privacy from unwarranted snooping, a senator added an amendment to do the exact opposite.

    Hang on, let me find my shocked face…

    Here it is.

  4. Feinstein said she wouldn’t have voted for it anyway. Why? Because there are some regulatory agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that don’t have the authority to serve warrants, and this rule could hamper their attempts to get information to use for civil actions. That is to say, Feinstein believes that individual civil liberties should be subservient to the convenience of government bureaucracies.

    That woman is evil.

    1. And Cornyn isn’t much better.

  5. “Constitution may be dead”

  6. RE: Bill to Require Warrants to Read Old Emails May Be Dead
    Senate amendments attempt to increase government snooping authority.

    Now let’s not get too upset here.
    The socialist vermin who are enslaving us in the Politburo and the Soviet Supreme Senate in Washington, DC did this for a reason.
    They obviously ran out of toilet paper and must the US Constitution to wipe their collective butts.
    That’s’ OK.
    They have to use something.
    Nobody wants to be know as Senator Poopy Butt.

  7. and permanent email storage

    I guess there was a time when space was at such a premium that admins routinely cleared out old mail. Crazy.

    And, I suppose, it would still be an issue if they hadn’t instituted attachment size caps since people would be attaching whole cat videos and CC’ing their entire friends list.

    1. My college radio station got a hard drive for the office computer in 1993. A *40 MB* hard drive.

      1. snort When I was a youngster, there were no hard drives. No OS. Not even a DOS. You had to load DOS from a floppy before you do anything.
        Buddy had a Commodore 64. That’s a 64 bit processor. Eventually he got a cassette drive. Before that, we’d program long strings of ones and zeros each time we wanted to play a game. If you turned off the machine, you’d lose everything.

        1. You still had an OS, that was the first floppy/tape you put in. Some games incorporated a bootloader, but that was the pre-MSDOS equivalent of making a system formatted disk. SOMETHING has to load your application/game, even if that something was a BASIC interpreter stored in ROM.

        2. That’s a 64 bit processor.

          No, it’s not. It had an 8 bit processor. The 64 was for the amount of RAM it had- 64kb.

          1. Jesus guys, it was 30 years ago. Give an old man a break on his memory.

          1. I did as well, except I splurged for a stand alone 5 1/4″ floppy drive. I was uptown, baby.

        3. I remember using cassette tapes to load programs to my TI-99/4A.

  8. But in more interesting news:

    Lumpy Cankles

    Bill Clinton’s lover – before and AFTER his marriage – tells how lumpy Hillary with her ‘fat ankles and hair on her toes’ schemed to get her to LIE on 60 Minutes about Bill’s other affairs

    Lumpy Hairy Toes Cankles! LMAO!

    1. Holy shit, I almost spit vodka and tonic on the screen:

      When Dolly met Hillary – May 28, 1974 – she wore a ‘misshapen, brown, dress-like thing that must have been intended to hide her lumpy body’
      The garment ‘stopped too soon to hide her fat ankles and her thick calves covered with black hair’

      1. I’m no fashion designer, but “misshapen” does not sound like a garment effectively achieving any intentions. Garments intended to hide something hide that thing. They don’t expose and amplify it.

        Wait, fuck fashion design, let me start over: I’m no English professor, but you can’t talk about an intention to hide something immediately followed by how that thing fails to hide the very thing it is allegedly meant to hide as if that is some sort of explanation of it performing that function.

        1. I’m going out on a limb and guessing she doesn’t like Hillary.

          1. Who could not admire GrandMao Pantsuit? I don’t get it.

    2. That’s… interesting. It’s almost too juicy to be true, but if even half of it is, then damn, pretty much every negative thing anyone has ever said or thought about The Cankle Queen would be true.

      1. Not speculating on if it’s true or not, but it made me laugh.

    3. Wait, are there people without hair on their toes? Sick.

      1. Uhh, I think yes, unless most women shave their toes.

        1. You say that as if it was unlikely.

    4. Ouch

  9. While everyone is paying attention to a twitter war where we are supposed to believe that ‘delete your account’ is some kind of witty smack-down congress takes several giant shits on the constitution. I am shocked.

    1. Libertarian moment.

    2. You say that as if they care if anyone is watching while they shit.

      Sorry, let me try that again.

      You say that is if they wouldn’t get off on everyone watching them take a shit.

      1. While they court their hairy toe females.

        1. *lights the SugarFree signal*

          “Sucking on hairy toes while receiving a blumpkin on the floor of the Capitol, Senator Fuckface could barely contain himself…..”

      2. Paul puts forward a bill killing selective service registration and requiring the already required direction of congress before the prez can bomb people, from the press we get something about some dude who got caught diddling a passed out girl behind a dumpster.

        The FBI can now look at your browser history without a warrant and from the press we get something about a gorilla.

        It is really stunning how mendacious the press is. In the end the bulk of the citizenry will get the government that they not only deserve, but begged for.

        1. “Tell us more about the gorilla,” asked NPR, NYT, et cetera.

  10. Ooh, this link is trollish *and* it has autoplay!

    How can I resist?

    1. Isn’t deep dish pizza really just round lasagna?

      1. I have no idea, Hyperion.

        Does the fact that Dave Lichterman remarks that they make their own sausage (at approximately the 1:01 mark) have any bearing upon the question?.

        1. I dunno, are you saying that that artisanal lasagna is not a thing?

      2. pasta and bread aren’t really the same thing.

    1. Shit. For. Brains.

    2. Father, Father! A flag jumped out of the window and caused a racism!

      1. I’m interested in the literally hagiographic manner in which they depict Lee and Jackson.

        1. Yes, I wonder who the other windows depict canonize?

        2. Yes, I wonder who the other windows depict canonize?

            1. They also have stained glass windows to honor famous writers.

              For example, Andrew Carnegie wrote…a check.

            2. Cool. Originally, “gargoyle” was an architectural term. It means “throat” in French, and referred to openings in the roof’s gutters. Basically, they didn’t have downspouts.
              Masons started carving the openings in the shape of fantastical monsters, and, eventually, “gargoyle” came to mean the monsters instead of the architectural term.
              The more you know…

              1. The game show scene in Billy Madison, where the host goes on that spiel about Billy giving the stupidest answer ever? +1 The Opposite of That Rant

                1. The nesting is hard to track on my phone. If that was in reply to me, then thanks. If not, carry on.

                  1. It’s into all-the-same-level land on a desktop browser too, i shouldve quoted what I was replying to, dammit.

          1. Saint Squirrel of Macedonia

            1. Patron saint of nuts and nut punches.

    3. The decision to remove the images was made after a six-month study by a five-person task force

      I wonder how much pre-determined conclusions cost the taxpayer annually

      as someone who used to do management consulting, i’d say about 30% of our total revenue was based on simply confirming things companies often already knew/believed, but which needed “outside experts” to publish a report so that the client/executives could avoid taking the fall themselves should the project fail or prove less productive than anticipated.

      basically, the whole point of ‘task forces’/expert-panels AFAIK is just as a CYA-device. “don’t blame me! I love Southern Heritage! But we had a *task force*, you see…”

  11. Anyone looked at the Gary Johnson tee shirts on Amazon?

    “Everybody Sucks ’16
    Except Gary Johnson
    No, Seriously, Vote Gary Johnson”

    or

    “FEEL THE JOHNSON”

    1. I don’t know who came up with this one, but it is absolutely disgusting.

      1. I think we can all be thankful that he was named Gary and not Harry.

  12. Speaking of snooping.

    http://nbc4i.com/2016/06/10/fa…..r-profile/

    1. Who was dumb enough to download the Facebook app to their phone?

  13. Given that Feinstein doesn’t care for the First nor Second Amendments, why would anyone expect her to care for the Fourth? California Uber Alles.

  14. The FBI routinely ignores the 4th and 5th amendments. One statute more or less will have no effect at all on Hoover’s organized crime family.

    -jcr

    1. The FBI government routinely ignores the 4th and 5th all of the amendments. One statute more or less will have no effect at all on Hoover’s government’s organized crime family.
      FIFY

  15. Uncle Sam: Remember, if you ever want to talk, I’m listening.

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