Sneaky Leahy Backs-Up

About-face on e-mail surveillance bill

November 23, 2012 11:51 AM PST

Sen. Patrick Leahy.

week in review After public criticism of a proposal that would let government agencies warrantlessly access Americans’ e-mail, a prominent senator says he will “not support” such an idea.

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 on Twitter that he would “not support such an exception” for warrantless access, a few hours after a CNET article disclosed the existence of the measure.

Leahy’s about-face comes in response to a deluge of criticism, 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!”

Leahy’s proposal would have allowed over 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would have given the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.
•  Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

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