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IPFS News Link • Senate/Senators

Senate rejects measure to give FBI more access to Americans' digital data

• TheGuardian

The Senate has rejected loosening restrictions on the FBI's ability to collect Americans' digital data, defeating for the time being a legislative move privacy advocates denounced as a cynical exploitation of the Orlando mass shooting.

The Obama administration-supported measure, a priority for the bureau before the 12 June massacre at an LGBT nightclub, would have allowed the FBI vast access to internet metadata, including messaging logs, account logins, browser histories and email records, all without a warrant, by using a kind of nonjudicial subpoena known as a national security letter.

The FBI already has the authority to collect that data, under the 2001 Patriot Act, but only with a judge's approval, prompting Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, to blast the measure for helping the FBI avoid "paperwork". Tech firms and civil libertarians said in a letter to senators opposing the proposal that the data "would paint an incredibly intimate picture of an individual's life".