Secret Provision in 2017 Senate Intelligence Authorization Bill “Takes a Hatchet” to “American Liberty”

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Independent Sentinel

Some believe that there are no intrusions to privacy and infringements on American liberty that are too much in the name of safety. This could be a case of exactly that and all with the best of intentions. Do we only have one Senator who sees the need for some limitations?

The Senate’s annual intelligence authorization bill is alleged to contain a provision that would allow the FBI to obtain U.S. citizens’ email records without oversight – without a warrant. The bill is still classified and the committee gets to decide when the public sees the wording which is a week or two after it’s signed in committee.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was the lone dissenting vote and he said it does infringe. All the FBI would have to do is send a letter to get our email records.

Wyden’s office wrote: “The bill would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers. The FBI can currently obtain phone records with a National Security Letter, but not email records.”

The FBI currently has to go through the FISA Court. While the FISA Court is on their side, it must be an annoyance for them.

“This bill takes a hatchet to important protections for Americans’ liberty,” Wyden said in a statement following the vote. “This bill would mean more government surveillance of Americans, less due process and less independent oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies.”

“Worse,” he added, “neither the intelligence agencies, nor the bill’s sponsors have shown any evidence that these changes would do anything to make Americans more secure. I plan to work with colleagues in both chambers to reverse these dangerous provisions.”

The members of the committee are listed here.

In February, FBI Director James Comey testified during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats that the FBI’s inability to get email records with NSLs was a “typo” — and that fixing it was one of the FBI’s top legislative priorities.

As a bit of an aside, there was a Burr-Feinstein proposal that created incentives for companies that would actually have forced tech companies to spend resources to thwart their own security features or create backdoors in response to government requests. Any court in the country could force a tech company to defeat its own security or build a backdoor that could affect millions of people.

Law-abiding technology users need to know that our data is safe from criminals and malicious hackers.

Its dead for this year, but you need to know how these people think.

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