Should the Federal Gov't Have to Get a Warrant to Track Your Internet Activity?
Should a warrant be required for the government to track Americans’ internet browsing & searches?
What’s the story?
- The House is expected to vote on an amended version of the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 on Wednesday that includes a provision to prohibit the government from surveilling Americans’ internet activities without a warrant.
- The House originally passed the bill 278-136 on March 11th, before the Senate amended the bill and passed it 80-16 on May 14th. The versions of the bill which previously passed both the House & Senate reauthorized warrantless surveillance of internet browsing & search histories.
- If the House passes the freshly amended version of the bill, it will be volleyed back to the Senate for another vote in a round of congressional ping pong.
What’s the amendment?
- Offered by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), the amendment would prohibit Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act from being used for warrantless surveillance of Americans’ internet website browsing & internet search history.
- It would also require reports about prior surveillance of Americans’ internet activities, including a good faith estimate of the number of persons & devices surveilled and the total number of browsing data & search histories collected.
- The Senate considered a similar version of the Lofgren-Davidson Amendment that was offered by Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) & Ron Wyden (D-OR), which narrowly failed on a 59-37 vote in which a 60-vote threshold was required.
- The Daines-Wyden Amendment likely would’ve been adopted if more senators had been in attendance. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) all missed the vote, while Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was quarantining at home after coming into contact with a staffer who had coronavirus. Murray later said she would have supported the amendment, while the other three senators may have as well.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Henrik5000)
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