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.
But the effort is far from dead. Majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who switched his vote at the last minute, submitted a motion to reconsider the vote following the defeat.
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 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.
If the amendment becomes law, federal agents won’t need a court order to access phone logs, email records, cell-site data used to pinpoint locations, as well as browsing histories of recently visited websites.
It is outrageous that mass surveillance of such user information without a warrant came so close to success. And it may still pass. How is it that warrants are viewed as unnecessary to breach the privacy of American citizens?
Here are some Twitter reactions:
Now, it’s Republicans’ turn to violate the Constitution, undermine fundamental rights. These two parties never stop. https://t.co/Io5JclbNcG
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) June 21, 2016
Good news: Proponents of this fake, knee-jerk solution failed to get support. That means we gained crucial ground. https://t.co/1DW5fIDjnw
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 22, 2016
Proud to be part of bipartisan group of senators that succeeded today in rejecting govt overreach and stood up for oversight. #privacy
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) June 22, 2016
11 Democrats joined 46 Republicans to vote for this fear-mongering idiocy; 8 Republicans & 30 Democrats against https://t.co/tVU7BHHTsh
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 22, 2016
The FBI has the power to get whatever user data they want. They just don’t want to get a court order from a judge. https://t.co/GAbHxDZpAF
— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) June 22, 2016
The FBI already has this authority, they just want to completely cut court oversight out of the equation https://t.co/hhmBYSs53g
— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) June 22, 2016