The Senate voted to give law enforcement agencies access to your web browsing data without a warrant.
This latest power grab was led by Mitch McConnell as part of the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Two senators, Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) tried to get the expanded power removed from the bill with a bipartisan amendment.
However, the privacy-protecting amendment was shockingly shot down by a single vote after several senators that had voted yes failed to appear for the session, including Bernie Sanders.
“The Patriot Act should be repealed in its entirety, set on fire and buried in the ground,” Evan Greer, the deputy director of Fight For The Future, told Motherboard. “It’s one of the worst laws passed in the last century, and there is zero evidence that the mass surveillance programs it enables have ever saved a single human life.”
The Senate vote comes as internet usage has skyrocketed because tens of millions of Americans are home quarantined because of the coronavirus pandemic. For more than a decade now, privacy advocates have warned that allowing warrantless access to web search queries and browsing history allows officials to crack down on activists, labor organizers, or anyone the government decides to label a threat.
“Today the Senate made clear that the purpose of the PATRIOT Act is to spy on Americans, no warrants or due process necessary,” Dayton Young, director of product at Fight For the Future, told Motherboard. “Any lawmaker who votes to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act is voting against our constitutionally-protected freedoms, and there’s nothing patriotic about that.”