DALLAS, November 21, 2012 ― Amidst a whirlwind of public outrage, Sen. Leahy’s office tweeted yesterday that the senator “is not working on a law to undermine email privacy.”
This statement comes as internet-users nationwide have responded with outrage to a report from CNET that Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy has rewritten his amendment to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in order to allow for increased Federal monitoring of private e-mail and social networks without the need for a search warrant.
CNET reporter Declan McCullagh, who wrote the original piece, remains skeptical. “Alternate explanation: Sen. Leahy responded to public criticism,” he tweeted. “Senate Judiciary aides were definitely not saying that yesterday.”
McCullagh, however, has obligingly written a follow-up story, explaining,
“After public criticism of proposal to allow government agencies to warrantlessly access Americans’ e-mail, Senator Patrick Leahy says he will ‘not support’ such an idea at next week’s vote. Leahy’s about-face comes in response to a deluge of criticism today, including the ACLU saying that warrants should be required, and the conservative group FreedomWorks launching a petition to Congress ― with over 2,300 messages sent so far ― titled: ‘Tell Congress: Stay Out of My Email!’ A spokesman did not respond to questions today from CNET asking for clarification of what Leahy would support next week.”
The proposal is scheduled to be voted on next Thursday in the Senate Judiciary committee, which Leahy chairs, although it remains unclear what exactly will be the text of the bill that the Senator proposes, now that he has taken steps to distance himself from the version of the bill that was released by CNET yesterday.
Forbes’ Kashmir Hill has suggested that “the version of the bill that Declan McCullagh excerpts in his report appears to be one of many that have been drafted and passed around, but is not a version that would be considered seriously at a hearing to review the bill next week.”
Does anyone else find it odd that such an ardent supporter of privacy rights as Leahy claims to be would have his office not only draw up such an explosive proposal but also allow it to be leaked to the press?
When the bill – whichever bill it is – is brought before committee next Thursday, we’ll be able to find out what bill Leahy is really planning to submit. But chances are, we’ll now never know what the Senator would have submitted without Declan McCullagh’s exposé. However, there’s one thing we do know: If Leahy was testing the waters for more internet regulation legislation, he knows he’s been rebuffed by a full-scale squall of outraged constituents.
A history buff, self-taught artist, and enthusiastic autodidact, Bryana brings her always politically incorrect and usually passionate views about politics and the theory of government to her readers. In addition to writing for the TWTC, she also writes for The College Conservative and maintains the official High Tide Journal at www.thehightide.com. You can also find her on twitter at @_Bryana_Johnson and on facebook.
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