Declan McCullagh on Fri, 12 Oct 2001 12:18:59 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Sen. Russ Feingold's lonely privacy fight

[The Senate this evening overwhelmingly rejected all three of
Feingold's amendments (he chose not to offer the fourth). --Declan]


Details on Feingold's four amendments:


   A Senator's Lonely Privacy Fight
   By Declan McCullagh (
   6:08 a.m. Oct. 11, 2001 PDT
   WASHINGTON -- Russ Feingold is fighting a lonely battle for privacy in
   the U.S. Senate.
   The 48-year-old Wisconsin Democrat is singlehandedly trying to add
   pro-privacy changes to an eavesdropping bill that would hand police
   unprecedented surveillance powers.
   His stand has been causing friction with his own party: This week
   Feingold refused to bow to a request from Majority Leader Tom Daschle
   (D-South Dakota) for an immediate vote on the complex, 243-page bill.
   Daschle had asked senators to agree unanimously that it was time to
   move onto the anti-terrorism measure that was drafted in response to
   the Sept. 11 attacks.
   Instead, insisted the former Rhodes Scholar-turned-politico, senators
   should have a chance to carefully consider the USA Act (PDF) before
   voting on it. Said Feingold: "I can't quite understand why we can't
   have just a few hours of debate."
   When the USA Act, which has broad support from his colleagues and the
   White House, goes to the Senate floor as early as midday Thursday,
   Feingold plans to offer four amendments to it. According to a draft,
   the amendments would:
     * Still allow police to perform "roving wiretaps" and listen in on
       any telephone that a subject of an investigation might use. But
       they would only be permitted to eavesdrop when that person is the
       one using the phone.
     * Preserve the privacy of sensitive records -- such as medical or
       educational data -- by requiring police to convince a judge that
       viewing them is necessary. Without that amendment, the USA Act
       would expand police's ability to access any type of stored or
       "tangible" information.
     * Bar police from obtaining a court order, sneaking into a suspect's
       home and not notifiying that person they had been there. The
       "secret search" section currently is part of the USA Act -- and is
       something the Justice Department has wanted at least since 1999,
       when it unsuccessfully asked Congress for that power.
     * Clarify that universities, libraries and employers may only snoop
       on people who use their computers in narrow circumstances. Right
       now, the USA Act says that system administrators may monitor
       anyone they deem a "computer trespasser."


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