I always respect Senator Ron Wyden‘s work to protect both privacy and a free and open Internet. He’s been at the forefront of this work for a long time. And has been one of the critical voices in protecting a platform that has enabled the sites, ecommerce, and social media we enjoy on the Web, today. This time, Senator Wyden is working against the FBI using Patriot Act Section 215 to access Web browsing logs.
Enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the F.B.I. to obtain a secret court order to collect any business records deemed relevant to a national security inquiry — a very easy standard for investigators to meet. The legal authority for it and two other surveillance-related investigative tools lapsed for new inquiries earlier this year, although the F.B.I. can still use them for pre-existing cases.
The senior senator from Oregon has been working to ban Web browsing records from that activity. With mixed results.
In May, 59 senators voted to bar the use of Section 215 to collect internet search terms or web browsing activity, but negotiations broke down in the House. During that period, Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and one of the sponsors of the proposal ban, wrote to the director of national intelligence seeking clarity about any such use.
For more on this ongoing effort, visit The New York Times.