That Was Fast! Invasive Email Bill May Be DOA
Well, that didn’t take long at all. Mere hours after CNET reported on how Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s amended cyber security bill would vastly increase the government’s power to spy on private citizens, he’s publicly stated he no longer supports it. Taking to twitter, he said “Ideas from many sources always circulate b4 a markup 4 disc., but Sen.Leahy does NOT support such an exception for #ECPA search warrants.”
This change of mind is wonderful, but if you’ll excuse our French, the idea that he did not support the odious concepts he himself wrote into the bill is bullsh*t. Leahy was, after all, one of the architects of last year’s horrible PIPA, the Senate version of SOPA, and he has for years been one of the least reliable Democrats when it comes to supporting online freedom and an open Internet. What is much more likely is that he was unprepared for the mountain of criticism sparked by reports of what his bill would do; conservative, liberal and so-called libertarian groups all piled on. Chances are he was even less prepared for what that kind of criticism means, now that fellow blue dog sellouts like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson have left the Senate.
Clearly mindful of a hostile media and an even more hostile electorate, Leahy followed up his tweet with a more detailed, if squishy clarification. “Technology has created vacuum in privacy protection,” he said. “Sen.Leahy believes that needs to be fixed, and #ECPA needs privacy updates #tech #cnet.” Of course, what the bill he supports will now look like is anyone’s guess. This is the guy, after all, who sought to turn the Internet into the film industry’s personal fiefdom but doesn’t consider it a conflict of interest to appear in several big budget movies. Chances are he’ll find another way to slip something terrible into the proposed legislation.
We’ll keep our eye on this as it develops.