U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy hits back at report that legislation would decrease Americans’ privacy

“The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is pushing back against charges that he is tweaking legislation in order to give the government warrantless power to access Americans’ digital communications,” Adam Goldberg reports for The Huffington Post. “According to a report by CNET News’ Declan McCullagh, Leahy has proposed changes to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that would allow certain government agencies to access civilians’ email or other correspondence without first obtaining a warrant.”

“When reached for comment by The Huffington Post, Leahy’s office contested the report’s details,” Goldberg reports. “‘Senator Leahy is a privacy guy and supports strong privacy laws,’ said Jessica Brady, a Leahy spokeswoman. ‘This bill is almost 30 years old and needs to be updated to address email. But this doesn’t mean warrantless searches of email will be in it. It won’t. Whatever that was is not the posture of the committee,’ she continued, referring to language in the CNET report.”

Goldberg reports, “Brady said that Leahy’s bill would require a warrant to search email and would include a provision requiring people to be notified if such a search had occurred.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If so, good to hear. What matter is what’s in the bill submitted to a vote. We’ll be watching, along with many others, to make sure it preserves or strengthens privacy rather than trampling Americans’ constitutional right to unreasonable searches and seizures.

Related article:
U.S. Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail, online files without warrants – November 20, 2012

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “John K.” for the heads up.]


    1. When crypto is outlawed, only outlaws will have crypto.

      In the meanwhile, if you’re truly paranoid, consider having your e-mail kept on a server outside the US, and don’t keep copies on your local devices.

  1. I am tired about US focus on hiding criminal communications from the eyes of justice. The criminals should be brought out into the light of justice and public inspection. That includes the politicians.

    1. When you treat every man as a criminal, you make the good man the friend of the criminal. When you treat every man as a good man, you make the good man the bane of the criminal.

    2. There is no precedence for “hiding criminal communications for the eyes of justice.” If you have a warrant you can get access to anything you want. The fact is, if you have warrantless searches, that would be injustice.

          1. Did you know that there are responsibilities that go with every right? You may have the right to privacy but that doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want and hide behind that right. Turn yourself in if you do something wrong and face the consequences.

        1. You are a seriously simple simpleton. Everyday you advertise that fact on this site. The real Q is.. Will you ever become self aware of your simpleness? Or carry on deluded to it?

          1. I wondered how long it would take shinolashow to come out from the woodwork. You have your own version of the world to contend with and it isn’t pretty. There are ideals that the world can work towards and then there is your ‘reality”.

    3. Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’

      When engaged directly, the nothing-to-hide argument can ensnare, for it forces the debate to focus on its narrow understanding of privacy. But when confronted with the plurality of privacy problems implicated by government data collection and use beyond surveillance and disclosure, the nothing-to-hide argument, in the end, has nothing to say.

      Life is choice. CHOOSE with whom you wish to share your privacy.

  2. I believe it does say that “people to be notified” within 360 days if their information had been accessed. Not quite a year. That would be Ok. NOT!

    What about that 4th Amendment to the Constitution?

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…”

    Or maybe we could just dump that old document and go with one of those European ones.

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” – Benjamin Franklin, February 1775

    Elections have consequences!

      1. Sorry about that, the links hould have been:
        a href=”http://www.thefreelibrary.com/China+Telecom+-USA-+Corporation+Becomes+First+Chinese…-a093649671″>China Telecom -USA- Corporation Becomes First Chinese Telecommunications Company To Establish Operations in the United States

  3. “Leahy is a privacy guy”… Leahy! A privacy guy my sweaty, hairy ass! That moron isn’t affectionately known as “Leaky Leahy” “Senator Depends” for nothing!

    Trust this idiot with keeping anything dealing with secrets secret?… HA! He’s a lying douche!




  4. Here’s the part I don’t understand:

    “Jessica Brady, a Leahy spokeswoman. ‘This bill is almost 30 years old and needs to be updated to address email.”


    Why doesn’t matter how a communications was sent. If the message was sent via paper through the US Post Office, via email, text message, via voice over the telephone, via video over FaceTime, etc… the laws should be all the same.

    Also communication between two or more people should be considered private and no government agency should be allowed to listen it without a warrant.

    Am I being stupid? It just seems like a no brainer.

    1. Because the old bill says the protection only lasts for 180 days. Leahy’s current amendment makes the protection permanent *and* requires the person be notified if a warrant does grant access.

  5. Contact your Senators. Urge them to protect a free and open Internet. Urge them not to support this bill.

    When we elected President Obama the first time we were promised a more open Presidency. We got a Presidency more secretive than ever. We were told that our President would take advantage of current technologies to include us in the legislative process like never before. Instead we got the same old secret votes, votes in the middle of the night, back room deals, and nightmare legislation including the infamous 2000 pages of indecipherable health care law.

    As Prankster above postulates, current law already provides them with access to your communications via email. Come on, you watch cop shows, they’re always getting someone’s email and facebook page.

    If you think this will make you safer, ignore it. If you feel as I do it’s just another tiny growth of an already hostile government, contact your senators.

    This isn’t about your skin color or your sexual proclivities, or your gender, or your right to have as many abortions as you want, or your right to sneak into the country and claim citizenship rights, or your union benefits. It’s simply about your privacy which should transcend selfish special interests.

    The Bigger The Government, The smaller the citizen. For freedom’s sake, stop giving them power.

    Help stuff this bill down the toilet.

    1. The Health Care Bill is only “indechipherable” if you don’t bother to read it.

      I’ve read it. It’s verbose, but not hard to understand. And, given that it’s not the ideal (single payer), it’s really a very good bill, based mostly on a combination of Romneycare and the Republicans’ health care proposals from the 90s — particularly that bit about the individual mandate.

      Ignorance is not an excuse for stupidity. Go read the bill and learn something.

      1. The bill is garbage. I’ve sat with lawyers laughing their asses off trying to read it. I know lawyers that won’t read it. It is massive, purposely obtuse and difficult to decipher. What I learned from the bill is what a bunch of criminals the Democrats and the Senate are, and what a charlatan the President is.

        1. The half-blind attitude toward political parties is RIDICULOUS. Depend on NEITHER party to make sense or to actually represent anyone but their overlords, our Corporate Oligarchy. It is THEY who insist upon destroying the US Constitution for the sake of their little baby wha-wha complaints about piracy. Meanwhile the fascists and commies love it. Both lunatic systems require totalitarianism in order to work. And totalitarianism = NO PRIVACY.

          I’ll stick with the US Constitution.

      2. I’m certainly glad you got the main message T Mac was trying to convey.
        Rather than comment on the overall theme of “diminishing privacy” you decided to pick out a single phrase from a rather long comment and tangent the entire thread that way. the topic is PRIVACY. Focus!!!
        BTW, you don’t see ANY way that a 2000 page health care law can be indecipherable to any one? That’s rhetorical.

  6. Democrats have no morals, no shame, if it gives them an ounce of power, they’ll run over you with the biggest truck they can find. If the recent election didn’t make that obvious, you’ve turned blinders to high..

    1. I is from VT and they say that long time ago, leahy was very good upstanding advocate for Vermont. He bin down in D.C. so darn long (mebbe 30 years or more), he no how know to serve hiz constituents no longer. I think he done. Hand over torch now to da younglings. Let them fight the good fight for VT. please, Pat, please!

  7. MDN is to be commended for watching out for these privacy issues and other potential constitutional rights violations. The price of liberty is, indeed, eternal vigilance. Thanks for your vigilance, MDN!

  8. All you dumb fucktards that voted for Oscumbag, this is what he has got in store for you sorry dumbassess.

    “As Americans focused on the U.S. presidential election, the United Nations and a wide swath of its autocratic member regimes were drafting a plan to give a little-known UN agency control over the online world. Among the most contentious schemes: a plot to hand the International Telecommunications Union a so-called “kill switch” for the Internet that critics say would be used to smash free speech.

    The ITU’s proposals to “reform” the Internet, drafted in secret and quietly published online last week, revealed a broad plan to rein in what, up until now, has been a largely unregulated tool allowing people all over the world to freely express their views at little to no cost financially. Unlike dictatorships such as the communist regime ruling over mainland China and the governments of Muslim-dominated countries, most Western-style governments have been unable or unwilling to regulate the Web apart from minor restrictions on subjects such as child pornography and the like.

    However, that could all change soon — at least if the UN and its tyrannical member states get their way, with a broad coalition of Islamist autocrats and communist despots joining forces to quash freedom of expression for everyone. Representatives from almost 200 governments and dictatorships will be meeting behind closed doors next month at the “World Conference on International Telecommunications” (WCIT) in the United Arab Emirates to discuss handing complete control over the internet to the ITU.

    Last week, the UN and the dictatorship ruling Azerbaijan hosted the so-called “Internet Governance Forum” (IGF) in Baku under the banner of “Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic, and Social Development.” Critics slammed the forum, the notion of “Internet Governance,” and especially the host regime, known for its barbaric repression of free speech. But while no binding decisions were made there, UN leaders and despots from around the world took the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming ITU summit in Dubai.

    The widely condemned ITU plan calls for reforms that would stifle free speech, regulate social media, force Internet users to pay “fees” for services like Skype and e-mail, and much more. Among the chief problems cited by analysts is a plan to allow UN members — mostly dictatorships — to demand that the ITU shut down content they do not approve of. The scheme would also create a global Internet surveillance regime while permitting governments to restrict or block online information. Anonymity on the Web would become a thing of the past, too.

  9. The article has been updated. At the bottom, it says:

    “UPDATE II [9:33 p.m. ET]: While Leahy is publicly distancing himself from the efforts to push a bill that would expand government access to electronic communication, Jonathan Turley notes that the administration is not doing the same regarding this claim in the CNET article: “One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy’s original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an ‘adverse impact’ on criminal investigations.””

    As the last election shows, too many people want to be free but they failed to understand the lesson of why the Revolution was fought and the Constitution was of so few words. The reason Search & Seizure and Habeas Corpus were cornerstones is the British government in America was breaking into peoples’ houses, searching without cause, and arresting people without charge.

    I am an independent because both sides of the 2-party system are trampling all over the reasons we fought for freedom. I voted for and then called the last guy “King George”. Then I voted for a constitutional law professor who I now call “Emperor Obama”. We have an act signed last year called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which says any American citizen can be detained indefinitely without cause. As part of the Patriot Act signed by GW Bush we have National Security Letters which any of these 22 federal Homeland Security agencies can without a warrant present to you. They have a gag order attached to them which will cause you to be arrested and jailed if you tell anyone about even receiving the letter. We wouldn’t even know about them if “criminals” like librarians and small ISP owners had not stood up for the Constitution.

    This isn’t about your email, Twitter, Facebook protection. It is about our freedom. Anyone who thinks this is fantasy can search for “NDAA” and “National Security Letters librarian”. Increasingly since 9/11 you are all guilty in the eyes of “your” government until “they” decide otherwise.

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