House Panel OKs Expanded Surveillance Powers
Members of the House of Representatives approved an array of new electronic surveillance powers late Wednesday; however, wary of trampling on civil liberties, lawmakers reined in the Bush administration's anti-terrorism requests and set the new powers toMembers of the House of Representatives charged with overseeing the judiciary approved an array of new electronic surveillance powers late Wednesday evening. However, wary of trampling on civil liberties as the government has done during past national crises, lawmakers reined in the Bush administrations anti-terrorism requests and set the new powers to expire at the end of 2003. The bill, which includes sections on detaining and deporting terrorist suspects, notifying subjects of search warrants, and sharing surveillance data between the law enforcement and intelligence communities, is slated for a vote on the House floor next week. It is unclear when the Senate will vote on its counterpart, but it is possible that the legislation could be approved and sent to President Bush by the end of next week.
The legislation would allow law enforcement to collect Internet transactional data under the low standard of judicial review required for capturing telephone numbers (with a pen register or trap and trace device), but it remains unclear how much information is included in transactional data. Some lawmakers and privacy advocates remain concerned that the new surveillance provisions may expose protected communications to the government. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., said e-mail message lines and Web pages visited should not be available without a full court-issued order based on a showing of probable cause in an investigation.