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Government Surveillance

Senate Applies the Brakes To Anti-Privacy Amendment

Today, the Senate decided not to move forward with an amendment that would have permitted the FBI to access sensitive records – like browsing history and email logs – without a court order, as is currently required.

The amendment, which was offered to the Commerce Justice Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2017, fell two votes short of the sixty votes required to advance.

“This amendment would have taken from the courts and given to the FBI the authority to decide whether it is entitled to obtain a person’s web browsing history and email logs,” said Greg Nojeim, CDT’s Senior Counsel and Director, Freedom, Security and Technology Project.  “This new authority would not have helped law enforcement thwart the tragic Orlando attack for a number of reasons, including the fact that the FBI had already obtained Omar Mateen’s transactional records using the authorities it already has.”

“This close vote is an important reminder that even in the face of a national tragedy, we must remain committed to upholding our Fourth Amendment rights.”

CDT sent a letter to senators highlighting our concerns with the proposed amendment.