back to article US Senate strikes down open-access FBI hacking warrant by just one honest vote

The US Senate has struck down an amendment that would have allowed the FBI to track internet histories and communications without judicial oversight, but a re-vote could be called as soon as today due to Senate rules. The amendment [PDF] to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act would have …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

    Apparently from various reports, this wasn't "a terror attack" in the sense they're using it. It was a grudge or even a hate crime according to reports on why he targeted that particular club. The ISIS thing was a smokescreen.

    If this info is wrong, then so be it. But Congress shouldn't be knee-jerking legislation based on the same media that's reporting it wasn't about the ISIS.

    And don't get me started on the gun vote. My stance is that if your on the no-fly or terrorist watch list then buying gun should be out of the question. But, there should be a redress method in case someone is on one of those lists and doesn't belong there.

    The longer I live, the more I believe our government is now run by idiots instead of the crooks they used to be.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

      The ferals will try to use any mass victim attack to expand their Stasi powers. But they can not show that the expanded powers would have stopped the latest attack. Usually, there are serious reports of feral bungling and incompetence in most of these cases.

    2. chris 17 Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

      "The longer I live, the more I believe our government is now run by idiots instead of the crooks they used to be."

      at least 1 mercan gets it.

      just the rest of the nation to go.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

        "just the rest of the nation nationS to go."

        Fixed it

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

      @ Mark 85.

      "The longer I live, the more I believe our government is now run by idiots instead of the crooks they used to be."

      And who voted them in? I am betting the ones that sit in the back on the short bus licking the windows.

    4. Captain DaFt

      Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

      "The longer I live, the more I believe our government is now run by idiots instead of the crooks they used to be."

      They learned that you can get away with more if you appear incompetent, rather than conniving. That's all.

    5. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

      There is a significant contradiction between the implicit notion that the government should not be able to bypass tight procedures, involving some type of judicial review, in order to conduct a search, yet should be able, based only on hearsay and with no judicial review whatever, to abridge the explicit constitutional right to own firearms.

      According to the FBI's public information, you cannot find out if you are listed in the Terrorist Screening Database, and although there is a link for "Redress Procedures," it refers to a page of bureaucratese jargon that inspires little confidence in the existence of real redress. Use of such material to deny any right is seriously problematic, and its use without review independent of those who assemble and maintain it fails miserably, in the same way as national security letters, to meet a reasonable standard of due process, as the fifth amendment requires. The history of the DHS No Fly List suggests that although it doubtless is considerably smaller (at a bit over 100,000) it is no better.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

        Using Orlando as an excuse is particular galling because all evidence points to this guy acting alone, with perhaps his wife as being aware of his plans and not stopping it, but not really aiding him either. Critically, there wasn't any communication between him and ISIS or other home grown radicals so even if the FBI had perfect surveillance of all electronic communication it wouldn't have helped them stop this one.

    6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...then buying gun should be out of the question..."

      There's a daft assumption implicit in the 'Gun Buying' arguments that needs to be made explicit, so that we can examine it in the daylight and laugh at it.

      The daft assumption is that hardly anyone in the USA already has any guns. So when the nutters finally 'snap', they need to go out to BUY a gun.

      In fact, there are reportedly about 300M guns in the USA, about one per person. They're reportedly concentrated in about one-third of residences, so (just barely) most don't have guns at the ready. But I'd argue that nearly 100% of the borderline nutters mostly already have an arsenal.

      The whole 'Gun Buying' debate is almost entirely daft nonsense.

      It's like debating if drunk people should be permitted to BUY cars.

      Same thing. That's how idiotic the 'Gun Buying' debate is.

      I'm not sure why this duh-obvious point isn't more obvious to everyone. Frankly, it seems to be a widespread IQ issue, that hardly anyone seems to be aware of this point.

    7. Fatman Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: They're now using Orlando as an excuse? Really?

      <quote>The longer I live, the more I believe our government is now run by idiots with shit for brains, instead of the crooks they used to be.</quote>

      FTFY!!!

  2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "It will allow the FBI to collect the dots so they can connect the dots ...

    What about crayons? Doesn't the FBI also need crayons to connect all those dots? Yes, let's give the FBI also a big box of crayons.

    1. twelvebore

      Waste of time, they'd only chew on them.

  3. Graham Marsden
    WTF?

    You what...???

    So stopping terrorists from purchasing guns will not prevent mass shootings, but snooping on everyone *will*...?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: You what...???

      Right.. that's the theory they proclaim. Just like a "gun free zone" will guarantee your safety because no criminal would ever bring a gun into one of those zones.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: You what...???

        Just like a "gun free zone" will guarantee your safety because no criminal would ever bring a gun into one of those zones.

        I don't recall anyone claiming that gun-free zones will guarantee safety, let alone that the restriction would be observed by criminals, but they do significantly reduce the risk of death or injury from an argument getting out of hand, an idiot pratting around, a drunk losing control or a toddler reaching into a handbag.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: You what...???

          Listen to the rhetoric around schools and campuses sometime. While there isn't a real guarantee, the admins, staff, and students all buy it. Around here, there's a cop in each school during school hours, but his gun is in the car outside, because... gun-free, ya' know.

  4. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Good old Mitch, the only person in the game who read and memorized the rulebook, at least the "slow things to a crawl" bits of it.

    The Do Nothing Senate. The Do Nothing Congress. Two chapters in a future history book. Short chapters, to be sure. So at least these lazy f*ckers will be doing something in the fight against global warming whether they believe in it or not.

    Two years in and they get Tax-Payer Funded Healt Care For Life. Not a bad little con when you think about it.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Bah!

      To Be honest, on the path they seem to be on, I would rather they do nothing.

      I would far rather a Do Nothing Congress than one that is actively trying to do an end-run around due process.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        There is a lot to be said for a "do nothing Congress"... something about "liberty and property being in jeopardy when Congress is in session"....

  5. Oengus Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    "It will allow the FBI to collect the dots so they can connect the dots, and that's been the biggest problem that they've had in identifying these homegrown, radicalized terrorists, like the shooter in Orlando,"

    The FBI already knew about the Orlando killer. They had questioned him on a number of occassions and let him go. Why didn't they use their existing powers such as an NSL to get more evidence against him or did they want him to commit some act so they could use it as the argument to increase their surveillance powers?

    It doesn't matter how many times they get turned down they will keep coming back (as I have said before) like a spoiled brat until they get what they want.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why didn't they use their existing powers such as an NSL to get more evidence against him or did they want him to commit some act so they could use it as the argument to increase their surveillance powers?

      OK, but exactly what might that extra evidence be? Right up until he walked into the club and started shooting people he'd presumably been within the law.

      In a country where gun ownership is 'normal' (wake up America; gun ownership isn't normal) the police/FBI have to second guess someone's intention; they can't just stake out everybody just on the off-chance they'll decide to go shoot up some place.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Roughly 3 US households in 10 have one or more guns. That's a large enough number to qualify as reasonably normal, or at least not seriously abnormal. The average number of guns per owning household is somewhat nearer 3 than 2, which is not overwhelmingly large. Still, that is a lot of guns compared to all other countries, and based on death and injury statistics, in need of a bit of regulation.

  6. moiety

    "In the end it came down to a single vote. The hour-long Senate vote was settled at 58-38"

    Isn't that 20 votes, or is there something about American counting that has so far eluded me?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Two thirds majority rule, aka Supermajority.

      57 votes would have shy the minimum. Yes, it does sound wonky, but it gives them the chance to claim they were for the majority, but those >other party< managed to defeat it.

      They're full of tricks like that. They used to vote themselves a payraise every year, until it became a hot topic with the public.

      So they quietly passed a law that they get an automatic raise unless they vote against it, and never voted on payraises again.

      1. moiety

        Ah. Thank you. Didn't know about that. Or the pay raise thing. S'pose that's the sort of thing that happens when you put a big bunch of lawyers together in a room.

    2. Dusk

      Sixty votes are normally required in the Senate due to cloture rules. It got 58; McConnell opted to vote against it for procedural reasons, or it would have been 59.

  7. Youngone Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Voting patterns

    I'm of the view that all US politician's voting patterns can be predicted by looking at their donors list.

    In this case does that mean the FBI has donated to Senator John Cornyn?

    There's no evidence, so maybe they have other more persuasive methods of getting the votes they want.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Voting patterns

      This being the FBI, it may be that the "donation" envelope carried not cash but was full of certain pictures, with a note along the lines of "We'll be nice to you and keep these quiet, if you are nice to us..."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the same week as this...

    Democrats hold Congress 'sit-in' protest to force gun control vote

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36598736

    ============================================

    What will it take to taper guns versus internet overreach?

    If enough gun crazies shoot sufficient politicians maybe?

    Never happen! US Politicians & their families live in a dream bubble..

    1. SamuraiMark

      Re: In the same week as this...

      Congress critters take care of their own. Have a look at the gun regulations for Washington DC vs. the rest of the country.

  9. JustWondering
    Unhappy

    So ...

    ... this has little to do with whether they can actually access this information but more to do with whether it is legal? Since when has the FBI been worried about trifles like that?

    It makes me wonder how they plan on misusing this proposed bit of legislation.

    1. Ropewash

      Re: So ...

      "It makes me wonder how they plan on misusing this proposed bit of legislation."

      Spy on everyone, cherry-pick the easy victims so they can report great success to the media, justify their budget, convieniently misplace data on actual threats so they can blame their next failure on the lack of sureveillance capabilities, start casting about for the next freedom they can violate in the name of security.

      Same 'ole, same 'ole.

      If the American people are very very lucky the FBI hasn't cottoned on to the fact they could augment their funding by selling the data on to Google.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: So ...

        If the American people are very very lucky the FBI hasn't cottoned on to the fact they could augment their funding by selling the data on to Google.

        Go the other way... they could still save a bundle by buying their data from Google. Maybe a merger?

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: So ...

          Go the other way... they could still save a bundle by buying their data from Google. Maybe a merger?

          The name could be Goofbigle.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: So ...

            Goof beagle? Brilliant!

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: So ...

          Are the F, B and I already taken in Alphabet?

        3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: So ...

          I thought the plan was to legalise the current practice of taking all of Google's data for free without a warrant by intercepting communications at ISP level.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: So ...

            Well, yes. But Google has already collated it, indexed it, cross-indexed it much like FB has but while FB probably does more, Google has more data on more people. Takes a bit of time and money to do the indexing, etc.

        4. mhenriday
          Boffin

          Re: So ...

          For the close connexion between the so-called «intelligence community» in the United States and Google, cf the following article by Dr Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed in two parts : Part One and Part Two....

          Henri

  10. Immenseness
    Big Brother

    "We need to keep the pressure on & advocate for policies that advance security & liberty."

    A finer example of Newspeak I have yet to see.

  11. dave 81
    Devil

    I've said it before

    Welcome to the United Police States of America.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silly Senate

    So, make no laws to control assault weapons in the public's hands, but try and introduce snooping laws to see what might be done with said mass killing devices.

    Dingbats!

  13. mhenriday
    Big Brother

    Due process in the US of A

    «"The hypocrisy behind what has been going on the last few days; due process ought to apply as it relates to guns, but due process wouldn't apply as it relates to the internet activity of millions of Americans," he [i e, Ronald Lee Wyden] said.»

    That hypocrisy is easy enough to explain ; while the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution - originally designed to permit slaveholders like Thomas Jefferson & Co to organise «well-regulated militia[s]» to maintain control over their slaves - hardly represents a threat to those who dominate the country, enforcing the 4th Amendment would, in fact, render their spying on all and sundry a tad more difficult. For this reason, people there will be allowed to keep their AR 15s - or as the case may be, their SIG Sauer MCXs - clasped to their respective bosoms until pried from their cold, dead fingers, while the authorities will continue to spy on their every communication....

    QED....

    Henri

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Due process in the US of A

      The second amendment has roots in the English Bill of Rights (1689) among other things. Analogues also were present in the state constitutions of New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, where controlling restless slaves would not have been a major issue, and also in the Articles of Confederation and in the Northwest Ordinance that governed settling the area that now includes Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota and prohibited slavery throughout the territory. Georgia, which permitted slavery at the time, had no constitutional provision that allowed keeping and bearing arms, although as in all of the states, customary and common law (adopted almost entire from England) certainly would have allowed it.

  14. VERNONBALMERJR

    Don't need the FBI. Ask HAWAII, or some agents in HAWAII. They've sure accessed mine. And I'm not accused of spying. Maybe that's the difference. Shouldn't be. Agents in or OF HAWAII. Maybe HSPLS trumps laws meant to check FBI.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019