House votes down warrantless surveillance ban following Orlando shootings

The House voted against an amendment to a military spending bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to attain a warrant in order to search the electronic communications of Americans.
The House voted against an amendment to a military spending bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to attain a warrant in order to search the electronic communications of Americans.

The House voted against an amendment to a military spending bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to attain a warrant in order to search the electronic communications of Americans from a foreign intelligence database.

The legislative measure, introduced by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), also would have prevented the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency from using funds appropriated under the legislation to compel technology companies to create backdoors for encrypted devices. The same measure received overwhelming support when it was previously voted and approved in 2014 and 2015, only to be later blocked by Senate leaders.

Legislators voted 198-222 to reject the amendment during the aftermath of the deadly shooting last Sunday that killed 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando.

Nation-E CEO Idan Udi Edry supported the decision, noting in an email to SCMagazine.com that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act must be used to protect Americans “from incidents such as the Orlando shooting, as well as potential future attacks that threaten the lives of millions,” referring to the potential of an attack that could risk industrial controls.

Other pros warn that days after a deadly attack may not be the ideal to discuss important legislation addressing involving privacy and security. “When the rhetoric is calmer, we need a broader, open debate about all the manifestations and associated unintended consequences with all parties present heard and then voted,” said Nok Nok Labs president and CEO Phil Dunkelberger. “Doing this piecemeal or through local courts/government will continue to get partial solutions and implementations.”

In another disappointment to privacy advocates this month, sponsors of the Email Privacy Act withdrew the bill after an amendment was proposed that tech companies and privacy supporters would defeat the intent behind the bill.

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