Senate blocks warrantless searches of browser history

The Senate rejected a bill on Wednesday that would allow the FBI to search a suspect’s internet browser history without a warrant.

The measure was introduced by Senator John McCain (R.-AZ) as a response to the Orlando mass shooting.

“In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations and track ‘lone wolves,’” said Senator McCain. “To be clear, this amendment would not allow the FBI access to the content of private messages, but will only allow law enforcement to look at non-content electronic communication transactional records in the course of a national security investigation, such as how much time a suspicious individual spends on a website.”

The amendment was narrowly defeated by just two votes, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that it could be revisited as early as next week.

Those opposed to the measure said that rather than strengthening safety, the amendment sought to strengthen the police state and threaten civil liberties.

“The country wants policies that promote safety and liberty,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “Increasingly we’re getting policies that don’t do much of either.”

Wyden continued to say that the amendment was not constitutionally viable as it violated the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

“Due process ought to apply as it relates to guns, but due process wouldn’t apply as it relates to the internet activity of millions of Americans,” said Wyden.

 

[CNET] [ZDNet]