Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rand Paul introduces bill to extend Fourth Amendment protection to electronic communications

image source:
Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Madison Ruppert
Activist Post

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced legislation that seeks to extend Fourth Amendment protection to electronic communications, which if successful would be a major move to protect online privacy.

This comes after it was revealed that both the IRS and the FBI claimed they did not need a warrant to spy on the electronic communications of Americans.

However, some might be skeptical given Paul’s much-criticized apparent flip-flop on the drone issue.

Nonetheless, Paul has made some much needed statements about the lack of protection given to the private electronic communications of the American people.

“In today’s high-tech world, we must ensure that all forms of communication are protected,” Paul said in a press release. “Yet government has eroded protecting the Fourth Amendment over the past few decades, especially when applied to electronic communications and third party providers.”

The Fourth Amendment is supposed to protect the American people from unreasonable search and seizure, though that has been undermined quite a bit.

The Fourth Amendment usually requires warrants to be issued based on probable cause, but that too has been increasingly eroded under the guise of fighting terrorism.

“Congress has passed a variety of laws that decimate our Fourth Amendment protections,” Paul said. “In effect, it means that Americans can only count on Fourth Amendment protections if they don’t use email, cellphones, the Internet, credit cards, libraries, banks or other forms of modern finance and communications.”

Paul’s legislation, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, or S. 1037, would require law enforcement to obtain warrants when seeking access to personal data online including emails, chat logs, online banking records and more.

“Basic constitutional rights should not be invalidated by carrying out basic, day-to-day functions in a technologically advanced world, and this bill will provide much needed clarity and reassert Fourth Amendment protections for records held by third parties,” he said.

As WebProNews points out, Paul’s legislation was introduced only a month after the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013, introduced Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Unlike Leahy’s bill, however, Paul’s bill would ensure all online data held by third parties is protected by the Fourth Amendment,” according to Zach Walton of WebProNews.

This type of reform seems to be gaining steam, with Attorney General Eric Holder even supporting an update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Paul also introduced the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2013, a bill that aims to “protect an individual’s right to privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones.”

Such legislation seems to be increasingly palatable in Washington, at least to a degree, and has gained traction in state legislatures around the nation.

It will be interesting to see how these bills fare in a climate that remains hostile to limiting government power.

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This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM - 9 PM PT/10 PM - 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at


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Michael Rivero said...

No such bill should be necessary. The Fourth Amendment is non-specific regarding unwarranted searches and is presumed (under the Ninth Amendment) to apply to technologies that did not exist when the Bill of Rights was created such as telegraph and telephone (which are in fact electronic forms of communication). Under the Tenth Amendment, it is the government that is prohibited from arbitrarily declaring that the Fourth Amendment privacy protections of Telegraph and Telephone and paper mail do not apply to texting and email.

Anonymous said...

If OUR e-mail communications are NOT subject to 4th Amendment protection and regarded as PRIVATE and PRESUMED secure ............... then there is NO SUCH THING as HACKING as a crime, and THEIR databases and communications are FAIR GAME.
Any GOVERNMENT information that private parties manage to get into and read or copy is perfectly UNPROTECTED.
The government must immediately release and cease any further prosecution of what were formerly called Hackers.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the law or lack of law, as MR above noted that the 4th amendment already covers it. The problem is an illegal government that ignores the law, and a dumbed-down, ball-less American people that lets them get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah... I would be extremely dubious if this goes anywhere at all. It's only been proposed to jack people's hopes up about his integrity before he slams his fist down on their heads. And their hopes.

Case in point: The RT reporter(Abby Martin) he tried to have charges pressed against and to take her job because.... SHE ASKED QUESTIONS. Yup. Look it up.

She was asked to come down to the White House and was then grilled for hours as if she was suspected of some heinous, treasonous act. All she did was ask questions of the man representing her in that House and they acted like she'd set of a bomb. Threats were flying in her direction left and right. For WHAT??

This guy doesn't want to answer questions about his agenda or why he supports certain agendas or people.

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