Skip to main content

US Senate denies warrantless government access to internet browsing histories

senate surveillance reauthorization 2017
The United States Senate has rejected an amendment intended to give the government access to people’s internet browsing histories without a warrant. However, the vote came down to a very slim margin.

The amendment fell two votes short of the 60 that were required for it to pass, according to a report from ZDNet. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who apparently changed his vote to oppose the amendment at the very last minute in a procedural maneuver that allows him to revive the amendment — submitted a motion to review the result after the rejection of the amendment was announced.

Sen. John McCain proposed the amendment on Monday, tying the new legislation to this month’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. It aimed to give federal agents more freedom in their efforts to track the online movements and communications of individuals posing a potential risk to national security.

If the amendment were to pass, federal agents would not be required to obtain a warrant to access phone logs, email exchanges, and location data from cellphone and internet browsing histories. This would certainly make it easier to pursue criminals, but there’s some debate as to whether it could breach the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

The federal government can already utilize national security letters to request information pertaining to cases like these, and these subpoenas do not require authorization from a judge. The proposed amendment seeks to expand upon those abilities.

The Obama administration was pushing for the amendment to pass, and there has been plenty of support from across the aisle, too. Tech companies have offered up resistance to the proposal, with Apple a key player following its lengthy dispute with the FBI over an iPhone central to the investigation into the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

While this is a major setback for the amendment, it seems unlikely that its supporters will drop the issue. The trade-off between privacy and protection is a thorny issue, and plenty more discussion should be expected before either side can declare victory.

Editors' Recommendations

Brad Jones
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
Walmart+: Everything you need to know about Walmart’s retail subscription
Walmart logo.

You've heard of Amazon Prime. Maybe you've heard of My Best Buy Plus. But what is Walmart+? Walmart launched its paid membership program last year. If you haven't checked it out yet, it's worth considering before Black Friday sales start. It offers same day delivery on most items and exclusive discounts. It's currently $13 per month or $98 per year, but there is a 15-day free trial you could time with Black Friday. But there's a little more to it than just that. Here’s everything you need to know about Walmart+.

What is Walmart+?

Read more
30 best gift cards you can give friends, family, and coworkers in 2023
google play gift cards launch in uk

Between gifts, birthdays, and holiday, it can be difficult to figure out what to give the people we know and love. With everybody having their own minds about what to get for themselves, the thought of giving a selected gift becomes challenging. What if the headphones you pick our for your brother aren't exactly the best headphones you can buy? Your niece is into gaming, but there's seemingly no way to remember what games she wants. The solution to all of this disarray and individuality could be cash, but different families and groups tend to have frustratingly unwritten rules around cash giving. That leaves one real solution: The gift card.

But that solution quickly brings forth the new problem of trying to figure out which gift card to give. Nearly every company and service offers one nowadays. And different ones give different sentiments. A gift card for a weight loss program's merchandise could be either be the most thoughtful, well-wishing gift of the year or a metaphorical slap in the face. Despite appearances, a gift card is not necessarily the equivalent of cash. What, then, should you choose?

Read more
Over 100 more Best Buy Black Friday deals just went live
Digital Trends Best Black Friday Best Buy Deals

Best Buy is one of the key retailers when it comes to offering fantastic Black Friday deals. That means it's the perfect place to check out awesome TV deals, laptop deals, and even great sales on appliances too. With hundreds of options newly available, we've helped you out by picking out some highlights. Below, you'll find all the best Best Buy Black Friday deals on TVs, laptops, gaming PCs, headphones, appliances, and other items too.

Best Buy Black Friday TV deals

Read more