Warrantless data searches narrowly miss Senate approval

via Engadget:

Senate amendment that would have allowed the FBI to search a suspect’s phone and online records without a court order came very close to becoming a reality today. The legislation, introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Burr (R-NC) in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Orlando, missed the necessary 60 votes it needed to pass by just two votes.

The amendment in question was attached to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill earlier this week, Consumerist reports. And it would have allowed the FBI to use “National Security Letters” to demand that your internet or cellphone provider turn over certain account information including login history, call records and IP address. Unlike a court-ordered subpoena, which has to go through a judge first, a National Security Letter can be handed down from another government official.

While Senator McCain called the amendment a “no-brainer” and claimed it would prevent terrorists from “sneaking into this country,” his critics pointed out that it removes key checks and balances that insure citizens’ privacy and freedom.