Read

Search form

Internet Privacy? Not if Government Has Its Way

Internet Privacy? Not if Government Has Its Way
Wed, 11/28/2012 - by Kevin Mathews
This article originally appeared on Care2

On November 29, the Senate will consider a new bill that threatens Internet privacy rights. If it passes, government agencies will no longer need a warrant to have total access to email accounts and other forms of electronic communication.

Thus far, the bill has not received too much attention, in part because it has played out as a bit of a bait and switch. Initially, the legislation was written explicitly to strengthen email privacy by necessitating that police have probable cause and a search warrant to access citizens’ email. However, law enforcement agencies objected to the content of the bill and it was consequently postponed from its initial review date in September.

In the interim, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy has rewritten and completely overhauled the bill. The potential legislation would now counter its original intent and give the government unprecedented access to private Internet accounts.

Government agents would no longer need a judge to approve searches of private Internet content. This legislation would not only apply to emails: Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, and just about any form of electronic messaging would also be subject to Big Brother’s watchful eye.

If the bill passes, two dozen government agencies - including the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Board and the Postal Regulatory Commission - would achieve easy access to America’s Internet accounts. State and local police would be granted similar advantages.

One provision even stipulates that if service providers such as Google, Facebook or Twitter want to inform specific users that law enforcement is monitoring their content, they must first tell the agencies that they intend to do so. Internet users will not be notified for about two weeks after it occurs, although agencies can delay the report from being released for as long as a year. In other words, the government expects a little privacy while invading the privacy of its citizens.

Another provision states that all existing laws and practices can essentially be ignored if enforcement agencies feel the situation is an “emergency.”

Critics of the bill find it alarming that a bill designed to protect privacy is now promoting the precise opposite. “There is no good legal reason why federal regulatory agencies such as the NLRB, OSHA, SEC or FTC need to access customer information with a mere subpoena,” argues Markham Erickson, a Washington D.C. attorney.

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

map

More than 20 places around DC are opening up their doors to people attending the Women’s March

Inauguration Day

Some of the Inauguration Day Protests photos sent to us by our friends on the streets of DC.

The 142-mile-long Trans-Pecos Pipeline would bring fracked gas to the small border city of Presidio, where it would continue on into northern Mexico – in the process crossing under the Rio Grande, threatening fragile water supplies.

money in politics, corporate political class, Michael Gecan, community organizing, parallel political structures, Death of the Liberal Class, Industrial Areas Foundation, Donald Trump, Saul Alinsky, Ralph Nader, mass movements, popular movements

"People who understand power tend to have the patience to build a base, do the training, raise the money, so when they go into action they surprise people,” says community organizer Michael Gecan of the Industrial Areas Foundation.

Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare repeal, repeal and replace, Congressional Budget Office, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump

The Congressional Budget Office also estimated that premiums for policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers would increase by 20 to 25 percent next year if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement.

creative activism, Act Out, Donald Trump, Trump Inauguration, Inauguration 2017, #DisruptJ20, Women’s March, J20, anti-Trump protests, non-violent direct action, Samantha Castro, WACA, dissent, protest, political left, hierarchy, NGO, community organizing

As stages are set for the upcoming inauguration, activists across the country prepare to strike, block, march and disrupt. We’ll outline what's happening in D.C. and where you are.

Posted 3 days 4 hours ago
Trump resistance, Indivisible Guide

The incoming administration has fueled a new level of political activism.

Posted 4 days 15 hours ago
London tube strikes, anti-labor laws, anti-strike laws, London Underground, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, RMT

Strikers are protesting job losses that have led to a shortage of station staff, which they say is endangering passenger safety and reducing the level of customer service.

Posted 4 days 15 hours ago

The 142-mile-long Trans-Pecos Pipeline would bring fracked gas to the small border city of Presidio, where it would continue on into northern Mexico – in the process crossing under the Rio Grande, threatening fragile water supplies.

Posted 2 days 15 hours ago
Betsy DeVos, public eduction, Chicago Public Schools, privatized education, charter schools, Donald Trump, voucher programs, Charter School Program, dismantling public schools, national voucher program, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin t

The president-elect has already pledged $20 billion to expand voucher programs nationwide, and his appointee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, views dismantling public education as a mission from God.

Posted 3 days 5 hours ago
Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare repeal, repeal and replace, Congressional Budget Office, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump

The Congressional Budget Office also estimated that premiums for policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers would increase by 20 to 25 percent next year if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement.

Trump resistance, Indivisible Guide

The incoming administration has fueled a new level of political activism.

money in politics, corporate political class, Michael Gecan, community organizing, parallel political structures, Death of the Liberal Class, Industrial Areas Foundation, Donald Trump, Saul Alinsky, Ralph Nader, mass movements, popular movements

"People who understand power tend to have the patience to build a base, do the training, raise the money, so when they go into action they surprise people,” says community organizer Michael Gecan of the Industrial Areas Foundation.

Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, The New York Times

While not technically a pardon, the order reduces Manning’s sentence from 35 years to just over seven years.

Betsy DeVos, public eduction, Chicago Public Schools, privatized education, charter schools, Donald Trump, voucher programs, Charter School Program, dismantling public schools, national voucher program, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin t

The president-elect has already pledged $20 billion to expand voucher programs nationwide, and his appointee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, views dismantling public education as a mission from God.