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Senate Rejects FBI Bid For Warrantless Access To Internet Browsing Histories (zdnet.com) 224

Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet:An amendment designed to allow the government warrantless access to internet browsing histories has been narrowly defeated in the Senate. The amendment fell two votes short of the required 60 votes to advance. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) switched his vote at the last minute. He submitted a motion to reconsider the vote following the defeat. A new vote may be set for later on Wednesday. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the amendment as an add-on to the commerce, justice, and science appropriations bill earlier this week. McCain said in a statement on Monday that the amendment would "track lone wolves" in the wake of the Orlando massacre, in which Omar Mateen, who authorities say radicalized himself online, killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in the Florida city. The amendment, which may be reconsidered in the near future, aims to broaden the rules governing national security letters, which don't require court approval. These letters allow the FBI to demand records associated with Americans' online communications -- so-called electronic communications transactional records.
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Senate Rejects FBI Bid For Warrantless Access To Internet Browsing Histories

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  • Non Stop Orwell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomkost ( 944194 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @02:48PM (#52368231)
    Don't think for a second that they're done. The all out assault on our liberties by statists is non stop. The FBI failed to stop Omar Mateen after meeting with him twice, but somehow that is justification for asking for MORE spy powers? Orwellian move by the Oligarchs.
    • Re:Non Stop Orwell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:00PM (#52368317)

      as has been said many times, 'they' only need to win once and we need to win 100% of the time or we lose our liberties.

      I really didn't ever think I'd see the US, my home country, turn into this kind of attack on freedom and privacy.

      then again, I have to keep reminding myself, this is a human thing and we see this all over the world. I could list a dozen countries that are also attacking their citizens in this way.

      I wonder how we solve a HUMAN problem? in fact, I have my doubts we can. this may well be the trigger that ends our world (yes, dramatic statement, but all signs are that the world is giving up on itself and doubling down on the derp, as the kids say, today). the disease of anti-liberty is infecting the whole world and the holdouts are losing. we are losing.

      not pleasant thoughts, I know. but again, we have to win 100% of the attacks on our freedoms, and they only need to win once and once a law is enacted, its near impossible to fix it later. it can easily be too late by the time we realize what we have done to ourselves.

      • by tomkost ( 944194 )
        I could not agree with you more unfortunately. Sometimes, Rome has to burn. I don't want it to all burn to the ground, but we are heading in that direction very rapidly in my opinion. Again, not wanting it, but I'm ready. I'm "preppred" if you will... lol
    • Every time this happens (which is WAY to much) I hear some official say things like, "We need to succeed every time, the bad guys only need to succeed once."

      It is starting to look like this is the playbook for stripping away our liberties as well. We must count on our elected officials to shoot this kind of garbage down EVERY time, but just like these heinous attacks, they only need to win once.

      Every now and then we fail and one of them "slips through the cracks". Sound familiar?

      Due to the nature of these l

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        There is some truth in this: The defenders of freedom must succeed every time, while the fascists can remove freedoms bit by bit and eventually they are gone.

      • Specific to this story, all of their PERSONAL online activity turned over to some agency with the power to utterly destroy them.

        Too late. Already happening. Yes, there is a lot of debate. But that's only for show. Along with some token actions to make it look like they are protecting the rights and freedoms of the people.

    • Re:Non Stop Orwell (Score:4, Informative)

      by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:20PM (#52368487)
      They're not done at all. The vote failed to advance 58-38, with 4 not present. It was actually 59-37, but McConnell switched his vote at the last minute, because that allows him to try the vote again later (by the Senate rules). So now he's going to go arm twist the 4 that weren't present. Given the names that didn't vote, he's almost certainly going to push it forward unless a few of the "yes" votes are persuaded to change their mind.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      It seems it requires yet another fascist catastrophe with global impact to make it clear (for a while) that what they are doing is not a good idea.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      The FBI failed to stop Omar Mateen after meeting with him twice, but somehow that is justification for asking for MORE spy powers? Orwellian move by the Oligarchs.

      The only reason they were stopped from further investigating was because they were dissuaded from continuing to investigate. News at 11: His wife has now disappeared and is considered a person of interest in the case.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @02:51PM (#52368251)
    Please submit your phone, laptop and office computer browsing histories for public inspection before the vote. After all, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, right?
    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      If you are avoiding inspection, this is because you are trying to hide the evidence of crimethink. Please report to the nearest Ministry of Love reeducation station.
    • The Federal Agency of Privacy.

  • Rules Rules Rules (Score:5, Informative)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:02PM (#52368345) Homepage Journal

    For those not familiar with parliamentary rules, this is the archetypal dick move:

    >Mitch McConnell (R-KY) switched his vote at the last minute. He submitted a motion to reconsider the vote following the defeat.

    In generic rules of order, when a motion is voted down, only someone who voted against it is allowed to submit a motion to reconsider. So if it looks like you don't have enough votes to pass you motion, you vote against it and then file a motion to reconsider. The motion to reconsider has a lower vote threshold, so the failed motion is resurrected like a zombie.

  • So other than the 16 cosponsors and 1 sponsor [congress.gov], which 58 sacks of shit voted for this.
    • by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:17PM (#52368453)
      Here's the full list. Note that 4 didn't vote, so they may try again later - this thing isn't dead by any means. Also, McConnell switched his vote at the last minute so he can bring it up again, so the actual tally is 59.

      https://www.govtrack.us/congre... [govtrack.us]

      Party breakdown:
      For: 46 R, 11D, 1I
      Against: 7R, 30D, 1I
      Not Voting: 1R, 3D
      • Thanks. It is nice to know that at least one of my senators doesn't' completely hate my freedoms (Al Franken) but that Amy Klobuchar does seem to hate freedom.

        And if anyone else wants to see how their senator voted you can find it here [senate.gov].
        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          if anyone else wants to see how their senator voted you can find it here [senate.gov]

          Thank you. I am not too bashful to admit that my Markey and Warren, both of whom I thoroughly disagree with most of the time, came through like champs in this instance. So, from an unexpected corner, thank you Markey and Warren.

          • I am much the same where it seems I vary rarely agree with any of my elected officials, democrat or republican, but when they do the right thing I will commend them on their actions. Senator Franken has turned out to be better than I had thought while Senator Klobuchar continues show just how much she hates skilled American workers and the freedoms that American enjoy. Although my representative to the US House, John Kline, isn't much better than Klobuchar even if he is on the other side of the political sp
  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:09PM (#52368391) Journal

    I find it funny how when the FBI and the other letters always think that our losing our rights will stop future crimes. It won't. Because when something happens under their watch, they will just say once again, well, if we can access X without a warrant, we can keep this stuff from happening. Yet bad shit still happens anyways.

    You want to stop terrorists? How about we stop making them and stop supplying them with weapons, stop giving them money for oil. Stop killing their family and friends with drones. How about we, the USA be the bigger fucking person and apologize for how we have treated the Middle East for that last 70 years. How about we stop fucking giving Saudi Arabia weapons and money.

    And seriously, I'm not against guns at all, but we need smarter laws on purchasing them.

    • Not to mention that this isn't really a big deal. We have people being terrorized, 49 dead, lots of friends and family having a horrible night trying to find if their loved one is still alive. It's a tragedy.

      However, that day, there were almost certainly more people killed in the US in accidents involving drunk driving. That was true for the day before and the day after, when there were no mass shootings. Each one of the deaths was also a tragedy, ending a life and causing great distress to friends a

    • While we're at it we should ask Iraq, Belgium and France to also lay off the poor terrorists since they also seem to be triggering similar ire.
  • by SeattleLawGuy ( 4561077 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:21PM (#52368501)

    Assuming the accuracy of the summary, shame on those who voted for this.

    Consider a simple hypothetical. Suppose a piece on Al-Jazeera critical of America gets flagged so that when the reader interacts with a customs official or a police officer or a TSA agent, "reads anti-American Al-Jazeera articles" comes up as extra information on that public servant's screen.

    Guess who is going to be retaliated against for having once followed a link to a web page? Guess who is going to risk losing the ability to fly?

    This proposal discourages freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of association, criticism of any actions of the US or the Administration here and abroad, research on the enemy, and simple academic free thought. It is the equivalent of monitoring you for checking "subversive" material out of a library.

    As someone who very occasionally reads foreign news sources so that my view of the world is a little less dependent on the domestic American narratives and worldview that dominate the American Press, I find the potential for abuse here staggering. As a practical matter, this kind of surveillance penalizes thinking and reading.

    The only way around that would be VERY strict controls on when it could be used, combined with good oversight and accountability, which right now we simply do not have. There are lots of very nice and good people involved in the three letter agencies, but they are not the only ones there and the system as a whole has incredible potential for abuse and keeps getting caught abusing its power. Expanding NSL Authority is not the answer.

    • This proposal discourages freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of association, criticism of any actions of the US or the Administration here and abroad, research on the enemy, and simple academic free thought.

      Now you realize the real reason most of this sort of legislation happens.

  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:26PM (#52368559) Homepage Journal

    Sam Harris [samharris.org] had a podcast which contains an audio clip of an imam teaching that it's OK to kill gays, that it was the compassionate thing to do. I got the impression from the 'cast that the clip was from an imam in the Orlando area, and that it was taken a week or so before the shooting.

    (I can't link the specific podcast at the moment because the site that I read it at is temporarily offline.)

    We have often thought that the right to practice religion is absolute, but I'm wondering now if it should be.

    Does being a religion give you a license to say anything you like? We have laws against hate speech [americanbar.org] even though we have free speech in general, and we have laws against speech that encourage a specific crime.

    We guarantee freedom of religion, but we also guarantee freedom of life.

    Which one has priority?

    Maybe it's time to prioritize freedom of life over the freedom of religion. Maybe we should say categorically that you *can't* preach that it's OK to kill people of a certain class, whatever the class might be.

    This would apply to any religion, even Christian ones ("thou shall not suffer a witch to live"), and it would apply to all cases: people who leave the religion are free to go unmolested (Islam [wikipedia.org], Scientology), people that the religion dislikes would be free to go unmolested (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism), and so on.

    So for example, I would cite The Westboro Baptist church claiming that gays should be put to death [huffingtonpost.com], or evangelists calling on their flock to assasinate abortion providers [patheos.com].

    As a country, I think we might legitimately say "not in this country" to these extreme views, and in these specific cases maybe intervene and say "no, you can't preach that even if your religion believes it".

    Personal safety should be absolute, and the right to religion isn't more important.

    In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, imams haven't stopped teaching that gays should be killed.

    Perhaps they should.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Personal safety should be absolute, and the right to religion isn't more important.

      well a lot of people of faith will disagree with you. Many consider the state of their eternal soul to be more important than their lives. On a more technical grounds I would argue the framers did not agree either. There is some reason to think the Bill of rights ordering implies their importance at the time. All the freedom of religion stuff is in the First Amendment, all the due process stuff that guarantees freedom of life and property stuff comes later in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

      I am not to

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      I think it's pretty clear and obvious that Freedom of Religion doesn't mean clear reign to do anything if you frame your actions in religious mumbo-jumbo.

      For example, murder is illegal whether "God tells you" to do it or not.

      Venomous hate speech is illegal whether "God tells you" to vocally express unbridled hate or not.

      And so on. Also, in a wider sense, freedom to worship in a manner of your choosing does not imply that you may coerce or force others to worship the way you wish them to, or that you may att

      • ...freedom to worship in a manner of your choosing does not imply that you may coerce or force others to worship the way you wish them to...

        Right, but it does seem to imply that you may exhort others to behave the way you wish them to.

        When does that constitute conspiracy to commit a criminal act? It seems like it should, in some cases, and that freedom of religion should not be a shield.

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @05:05PM (#52369373) Homepage

      Does being a religion give you a license to say anything you like?

      No.

      We have laws against hate speech even though we have free speech in general, and we have laws against speech that encourage a specific crime.

      The US does not have laws against hate speech. The article you linked to explains that.

      We guarantee freedom of religion, but we also guarantee freedom of life. Which one has priority?

      I acknowledge your intent here: Islam calls for the deaths of many kinds of people. But religion and life are not in conflict. Be careful: that is a false dichotomy and a dangerous generalization.

      Maybe we should say categorically that you *can't* preach that it's OK to kill people of a certain class, whatever the class might be.

      Hmmm... Now this is interesting... let us think it through. It sounds like you propose some kind of criminal penalty for a religious group to call for people to be killed. Does this affect only groups, or individuals? What about secular people who do the same? Should it become illegal to threaten someone in general?

      Threatening someone with harm, when you show capability and intent to carry out that harm, is called assault. Assault is a crime in the United States. Assault is defined carefully, because really, how many people have called for the death of celebrities or politicians? Or call for the death of immigrants? Or certain classes of criminals? The average Joe calls for the death of lawyers on a daily basis. ;-) Perhaps it should be illegal to call for the death of any group of people?

      Implementing this would be hard. Would we round-up religious leaders who call for the death of gays? I'm not sure how many of them are really living in the US anyway. You cited Westboro, which is a good example, but they haven't actually killed anyone... hmmm.... I suspect we could round-up the Westboro folks on assault already since they have carried out a number of their threats, but so far just protests. Seems like they would have a good chance of winning such a case. Although it would certainly send a message.

      Suppose we did round-up such people: would it help, or would it merely cause the crazies to lash out? There is a thought that by allowing racist nutjobs like the Nazis and the KKK to go about their business in public, they demonstrate that they are crazy, and actually limit the growth of their own organizations. Some feel that by banning such things, they go underground where they are not publicly criticized and can quietly proliferate. There is a real fear of that kind of thing in Germany.

      This becomes a slippery slope, which is why the founders of the United States wrote the first amendment.

    • Freedom of religion is the only reason America got so far the non-religious can contemplate outlawing certain aspects of religion.

      I wouldn't open that can of worms. Also, the same bullshit religion did is now shoved into non-religious, power-dominating memeplexes, and most don't realize it. Give up on "god", and proceed for dominance anyway, thus missing the forest for the trees.

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @04:15PM (#52368927)

    I hate rider bills totally unrelated to the primary bill just to get some nasty thing passed that can't get passed on its own.

  • by transami ( 202700 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @04:48PM (#52369207) Homepage

    Maybe they should stop approving military actions that cause unnecessary wars that lead to blow back... err... oh, you mean they *want* all that to lead to an erosion of our freedom?

  • They communicate with anybody? If they do their not Lone...

  • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @05:20PM (#52369509)

    It would only take a majority vote to pass the bill. However, you must first close debate and bring the question. In the US Senate since 1975, you need 3/5 of the duly sworn and chosen Senators to allow the bill to be voted on.

  • Horrifying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jahoda ( 2715225 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @05:33PM (#52369611) Homepage
    What this actually means is that slightly under 3/5 of the senate is totally fine with this invasion of privacy clearly guaranteed by the fourth amendment, to say nothing of these "national security letters" which are a perversion of our justice system.

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