Saturday, December 29, 2012
Destroying the 4th Amendment one bill at a time...
Yesterday evening, the U.S. Senate voted on amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012, H.R.5949, including one introduced by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee. The amendment, known as the Fourth Amendment Protection Act extends Fourth Amendment guarantees to electronic communications and requires specific warrants granted through FISA courts in order to obtain this information.
The amendment failed, 79-12.
Prior to the vote Rand spoke on the floor urging passage of the amendment:
The Fourth Amendment guarantees that people should be secure in their persons, houses and papers against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Somewhere along the way, though, we became lazy and haphazard in our vigilance. We allowed Congress and the courts to diminish our Fourth Amendment protection, particularly when our papers were held by third parties.
I think most Americans would be shocked to know that the Fourth Amendment does not protect your records if they're banking, Internet or Visa records. A warrant is required to read your snail mail and to tap your phone, but no warrant is required to look at your e-mail, text or your Internet searches. They can be read without a warrant. Why is a phone call more deserving of privacy protection than an e-mail?
This amendment would restore the Fourth Amendment protections to third-party records, and I recommend a yes vote.