ACLU calls on House to revive measure blocking warrantless web browsing surveillance

ACLU calls on House to revive measure blocking warrantless web browsing surveillance
© Thinkstock

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling on the House to revive an amendment that would block law enforcement from being able to access web browsing data without a warrant after the measure fell short by one vote in the Senate.

The amendment was introduced by Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSusan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland MORE (R-Mont.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Senate Democrats vote to provide 0 unemployment benefits into September MORE (D-Ore.) during debate on legislation reauthorizing three intelligence programs that lapsed earlier this year.

While a proposal making some changes to the court associated with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as the FISA court, was approved on Thursday, the amendment on web history narrowly missed the 60-vote threshold needed to pass in a vote the previous day, failing 59-37.


Several senators who were expected to vote in favor, including Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against minimum wage, implying that it's sexist Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Schumer insists Democrats unified after chaotic coronavirus debate MORE (I-Vt.), were not present for the session.

The version of the Senate bill without the Daines-Wyden amendment was approved 80-16 on Thursday. The legislation, which also reauthorizes USA Freedom provisions, will now have to be sent back to the House, which is expected to return on Friday.

"It is now time for the House to do what the Senate has done and further improve this legislation," Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel, said in a statement to The Hill on Thursday.

"Yesterday's vote demonstrated there is overwhelming support for protecting our internet search and browsing histories from warrantless searches. This important reform shouldn’t be left out of the final legislation merely because not all members were present to vote. We urge House leadership to add protections for Americans' online search and browsing histories to the Senate bill."

Wyden was one of the dissenting votes on the bill Thursday, releasing a statement condemning the powers that the measure would give to law enforcement.

"The legislation hands the government power for warrantless collection of Americans’ web browsing and internet searches, as well as other private information, without having to demonstrate that those Americans have done anything wrong, or even were in contact with anyone suspected of wrongdoing," he said.