The folks over at the SEC have taken notice of the recent developments over at the NSA and would like a piece of the action. Seems as though it’s just too big of a hassle to get those pesky warrants when they’re investigating possible crimes. So over the last few months the SEC has been lobbying Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for the SEC to conduct their investigations. Now it looks like at least one congressional Republican has heard their pleas and may be willing to lend a helping hand.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is considering putting forward an amendment to current law that would allow the SEC more freedom to intercept and read electronic correspondence.
While the legislation would no doubt make it easier for the SEC and it’s policing forces to ensure that companies are abiding by the law – that’s just not the point. We are a nation of freedom and laws. The laws were created to protect our liberties, not to encroach upon them. The government has to go through the process of getting warrants before gaining access to private property to ensure they are not persecuting citizens. If the SEC is allowed to simply read private correspondence of the companies it is investigating without first having to show probable cause, it damages the entire justice system by eroding the foundational philosophy of “innocence until proven guilty.”
Fortunately a cadre of legislators, Republican and Democrat, are trying to pre-empt this action by Senator Grassley. “The House Appropriations Committee recently passed an amendment to its own version 0f ECPA-updating legislation, co-sponsored by Republican Congressmen Kevin Yoder, Tom Graves and Jared Polis, that would require all federal agencies to obtain a warrant before searching through private emails.” (Emphasis mine)
Representative Graves (R-GA), Rep. Yoder (R-KS) and Rep. Polis (D-CO) have argued that our right to privacy, guaranteed throughout the Bill of Rights, is of more importance than the possible policing benefits of not requiring warrants for searching of emails.
The Senate is now considering its own version of an update of the ECPA guidelines, and Senator Grassley may be offering an amendment to allow the warrantless searches. For those who value their liberty, it is important to contact your Representatives and let them know that our privacy should be sacrosanct. While Senator Grassley’s heart may be in the right place, the government’s hands should always be bound when it comes to acting against its citizens. Today the legislation is to allow the SEC access to private emails without warrants… tomorrow it could be your local police force. It’s not a line we want to cross.
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