UPDATE: CNET has uploaded the amendments referred to in their prior posts today. They’re a far cry from what Senator Leahy proposed in September. So the question I have is: did the Senator actually draft these newer amendments to submit next week or is this a draft written by someone else who just wants the Senator to submit it under his name?
Earlier today, Declan McCullagh set off a firestorm on Twitter when CNET reported that Senator Leahy had not only backed off on his proposal to update ECPA by requiring warrants, but would be introducing a revised version that actually weakened our protections. As I noted in updates to my blog entry on the news, the Senator disputed Declan’s report and his office tweeted that he was still supporting a warrant requirement.
Declan has the update on CNET, and continues to stand by his earlier report:
Sen. Patrick Leahy has abandoned his controversial proposal that would grant government agencies more surveillance power — including warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail accounts — than they possess under current law.
The Vermont Democrat said today on Twitter that he would “not support such an exception” for warrantless access. The remarks came a few hours after a CNET article was published this morning that disclosed the existence of the measure.
A vote on the proposal in the Senate Judiciary committee, which Leahy chairs, is scheduled for next Thursday. The amendments were due to be glued onto a substitute (PDF) to H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.
Leahy’s about-face comes in response to a deluge of criticism today, including the American Civil Liberties Union saying that warrants should be required, and the conservative group FreedomWorks launching a petition to Congress — with more than 2,300 messages sent so far — titled: “Tell Congress: Stay Out of My Email!”
Read more on CNET.