Apparently, Congress Isn't Actually Interested In Requiring A Warrant For Law Enforcement To Read Your Email

from the it-was-all-a-charade dept

Yes, we've already covered the rejection of key amendments in the FISA Amendments Act renewal, but that wasn't the only case of Congress ignoring the public's privacy concerns as they close out this session.

Back in September, we noted that Senator Patrick Leahy, who has been working on much needed reforms for ECPA (the Electronic Communications Privacy Act) -- such as requiring law enforcement get a warrant to read your email -- had attached his ECPA reform plan to an update of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). While I know some privacy folks were worried about this update to the VPPA, I don't have much of a problem with it. The original VPPA, written as a quick response to a video store revealing Robert Bork's (somewhat boring) video rental history during his Supreme Court nomination hearings, did seem a bit limiting -- especially for online video sites such as Netflix that wanted to add some useful social features. However, it was the ECPA reform part that was more important. Attaching ECPA reform to VPPA reform didn't make some privacy folks happy, but they seemed willing to go along with the VPPA changes if it really meant that we'd get warrant requirements for emails and other digital messages.

There were some attempts to water down that ECPA reform at the end of last month, but the Senate Judiciary Committee kept the warrant requirement in there and rejected various attempts to weaken the bill. As we noted, however, it still was a long way from becoming law, given the need to pass a full Senate vote and to have a companion House bill make the rounds. We assumed that there would be no movement until next year and the new Congress.

But... late last week, the House rubberstamped the VPPA update, and the Senate, almost immediately signed off on the House's version, which the President is expected to sign any moment now. In case you missed it, that means that the ECPA reforms -- which were supposed to be bundled with the VPPA to make the whole thing palatable -- got dropped entirely. And now we get the VPPA reforms and no ECPA reform at all. Neat trick. "Bundle" two things to get support... and then at the last minute drop one part and rush through the other.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 28th, 2012 @ 5:48pm

    So to help us all accept this, all of Congress's emails need to be made public. ALL THE EMAILS, "work" and private.

    They need to be searchable by every citizen, who needs no reason to begin digging.

    Its a real spiffy idea to take away the "little peoples" rights up until it effects them. I suggest we remind them they are citizens not kings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 28th, 2012 @ 6:10pm

    This is not surprising. -- Techdirt's motto.

    Just your assuming there was some possibility of Congress upholding rights shows that you have the invincible optimism of those who've never known hard times nor been greatly wronged without recourse.

    Oh, and they raised their own pay, too.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous, Dec 28th, 2012 @ 7:11pm

    Apparently the American people aren't actually interested in doing anything about it, so...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Mike Brown (profile), Dec 28th, 2012 @ 7:25pm

    Unfortunately true. Voters think "incumbent" means "right person to vote for." It usually means the opposite.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 28th, 2012 @ 7:55pm

    Re:

    because they are sure the other guy is a socialist nazi out to murder grandma, and they will hand us over to the terrorists.

    More people vote for "reality" shows picking the next super duper special singer than in elections. No one is helping them find the facts vs the campagin commercial claims.

    People want to assume that it will NEVER be used against them because they are "Good People (tm)". Once it is used against them and not the bad guys, they suddenly start to care... but the other "Good People (tm)" just assume they were "Bad People (tm)" who did something deserving of it.

    We raise children to respect authority...
    They don't question Doctors.
    They don't question the police.
    They don't question religious leaders.
    And even after they are abused by those authorities and you can see video of it... there are still people saying the authorities are always correct and to claim otherwise is unamerican.

    Hopefully more of the little frogs notice the pots heating up before it is to late.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Dec 28th, 2012 @ 11:34pm

    Re:

    I suggest we remind them they are citizens not kings.

    Of course they're not kings. Obama is the king. They're the nobles...

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 2:27am

    Re: Re:

    You're making the mistake of assuming that the voting populace actually have a choice. They don't. It just looks like one because of tribalistic bullshit.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 7:19am

    Apparently, Congress Isn't Actually Interested In Requiring A Warrant For Law Enforcement To Read Your Email

    They all vow to support and defend the Constitution Of The United States, only about 3 of them really do and one retires after this current congress.

    None of these people follow the original intent of the constitution with the exception of the one who showed great fealty to the constitutions intent.

    Now you know the reason constitutional law is not taught at law schools any longer

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 10:53am

    They can stop by and read my email anytime!

    Just get an Apple email address. They will only release emails with a warrant. Their legal team seems pretty good, and can read and determine if a warrant is legit.

    Also, it's not terribly difficult to setup your own POP and IMAP server. When they show up at your door to take the server in your basement because they want to read the spammy emails, just tell them how much you want for it.

    I say market rate for federal authrorities to take an old server away, without a warrant, is $25,000 for an old Pentium II. Purchasing the system also includes not posting on Techdirt that federal authorities came to your house and offered you the deal of a lifetime.

    This type of deal is certainly worth a trade, especially if they like reading spam that is passed along because the email server wasn't setup correctly from the beginning (likely hacked to send spam) anyway.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    King? - really?
    If he were the king, you think the idiot tea baggers and their suckups would still have their jobs?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 11:09am

    Re: This is not surprising. -- Techdirt's motto.

    motto? ... wtf

    you make no sense - seriously.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 11:10am

    Re:

    Yeah - right, and you don't read the news

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    Yeah because the other guy is always the better choice

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Tex Arcana (profile), Dec 29th, 2012 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    Why do you think they're doing this in the first place?? SO THEY CAN BE THE ARISTOCRATS THEY SO DESPERATELY CRAVE!!

    Yes, we need to show them who's the real boss around here... and it starts with using our votes... and ends with us using our guns, if necessary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    letherial (profile), Dec 29th, 2012 @ 4:31pm

    Gosh, i sure hope the criminals dont start using encryption...all that energy congress uses to strip our rights will be for nothing

     

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  16.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 29th, 2012 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes.
    The game works best when you have an "enemy" to place blame on. President Obama is their secret Kenyan Muslim getting ready to hand the keys over to AQ. They are the caricature of everything thats xenophobic, jingoistic, self-centered, and living in their own reality.

    Look at any successful group in the US, name their enemy.
    You can easily, because we need something to blame the bad on before the good can happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 29th, 2012 @ 8:47pm

    Re: They can stop by and read my email anytime!

    big black boxes in the telcos make this not as viable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2012 @ 7:35pm

    Response to: letherial on Dec 29th, 2012 @ 4:31pm

    Actually, encryption is a wonderful idea. So wonderful, in fact that all emails should be encrypted. Think of the resources required to learn that someone's spouse needs a loaf of bread picked up at the store.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Tex Arcana (profile), Dec 30th, 2012 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Response to: letherial on Dec 29th, 2012 @ 4:31pm

    It wouldn't be hard for a provider to implement it, thru a browser. And it wouldn't be hard to create apps/programs that would allow it on tablets and phones.

    All it takes is demand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Ryan Jentzsch (profile), Dec 31st, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re:

    Not nobles. Czar's Remember?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2012 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Black pope, maybe?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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