The Senate has decided you have no right to privacy on your “private” phone or email. They can also examine the web sites you visit, keystrokes and clicks, all browsing and Internet searches.
If fed watchers might wonder why you get spam, especially goofy emails of millions from Nigerian ministers, how will you respond? Even checking the sale price of fertilizer might raise flags of possible explosive plans by you, worthy of investigation by an agency that discourages domestic bombing, but missed 9/11.
To spy on you, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) only needs their secret request approved by a secret court (FISA) with the results kept hidden from you. So that other agencies and big shots know you may be in trouble, virtually all “unmasking” requests are approved, because there are no opposition opportunities for you, no lawyers defending you, and you aren’t even allowed to appear yourself.
There are currently exceptions to this rule.
First, you can’t do this to Senators, or other politicians, or their friends in the Media. Eisenhower may have been right about the Military/Industrial complex in the 50s, but today it’s more like the Carpetbaggers/Communicators combine. One group claps for attention and the other cheers the news to a dumbed-down America.
Another institution is exempt – churches. Even Senators know that you must at least pretend justice for religious groups, or they’ll raise Holy Hell, and that means lost votes at power-renewal time.
There was almost hope Wednesday, last week, when a majority of the Senate voted 59-37 to go ahead with a change to the H.R. 6172 – USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020.
The proposed amendment (S.Amdt.1583) would have required the government to have a warrant approved before retrieving all your past and future web browsing and other personal Internet activities.
One of the co-sponsors, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), wasn’t present for the vote. Others missing in action included Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). All four are often on tv giving their opinions, but on Wednesday any one of them could have actually defended our Constitutional rights.
One vote was needed to move the amendment to a regular, not cloture, vote. In the world of Mitch McConnell, bills need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, and since Mitch doesn’t want to force the opposition to give speeches for hours on end, he just gives up and says the law failed.
The Majority Leader thinks he’s the Super Majority Leader – 60 votes out of 100. No wonder nothing gets done, unless it’s bipartisan earned benefit cuts for the elderly or tax cuts for the rich.
If the Republican majority wanted to eliminate the 60-vote charade, they could do it with their 54 votes, but McConnell says he likes it this way.
And Mitch was one of the politicians who voted against the bill, which would have protected all Americans. He later pushed through another amendment that excludes, religious groups, elected officials and the denizens of newsrooms everywhere, but not you and me.
The Wednesday effort to really protect privacy rights was sponsored by Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Browser data and internet search history is some of the most personal and revealing information that can be collected on private citizens, Daines said.
Government should not have access to such private information without a warrant. This is about securing our most basic 4th Amendment rights to protect our citizens’ most personal data.
The Senate was closer than it has ever been before with over half the senate – 59 Senators – voting to protect Americans privacy.
“I’ll keep working on this issue with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as I believe it’s critical to increase the privacy of all Americans,” he added.
Democrats voting against the amendment, and voting for invading your privacy::
Thomas Carper (D-DE)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH)
Doug Jones (D-AL)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Many Republicans – the usual establishment supplicants – opposed the pro-privacy change:
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
James Inhofe (R-OK)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
David Perdue (R-GA)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Mitt Romney (R-UT)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Thune (R-SD)
Thom Tillis (R-NC)
Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Todd Young (R-IN)
Wyden said ahead of the vote:
The typical American may think to themselves, I’ve got nothing to worry about. I’ve done nothing wrong. The government has no reason to suspect me of anything. Why should I worry?
Unfortunately, the question is not whether you did anything wrong.
The question is whether a government agent believes they have the right to look at your web searches.
Future invasions of privacy can best be predicted by recent actions of the FBI.