As the FBI tries to update a key federal surveillance law, critics are accusing it of invading privacy in the Internet age and expanding the reach of law enforcement to snoop on e-mail traffic or on Web surfing, reports the Associated Press. Federal law requires communications providers to produce records in counterintelligence investigations to the FBI, which doesn’t need a judge’s approval and court order to get them.
The law requires Internet service providers to produce the records, said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Justice Department. He said it auses confusion and the potential for unnecessary litigation as some Internet companies have argued they are not always obligated to comply with the FBI requests. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wants a timeout. The administration’s proposal to change the Electronic Communications Privacy Act “raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns,” Leahy said yesterday.