October 26, 2012


Together we defeated CISPA, but our freedoms are still at risk. Did you know that right now the government can read your e-mail and text messages, track your location using your phone, and search business documents held in online storage without a warrant or probable cause?

The Fourth Amendment is intended to protect all Americans from unreasonable government intrusions into our privacy. This freedom is a cornerstone of our democracy. Unfortunately, Congress has failed to update privacy laws to keep pace with technology, so while the government needs a good reason--and a warrant--to read your postal mail, search your home or office, or listen to your phone calls, the same protections do not extend to your e-mail, online documents, or text messages that are stored online.

You might be saying, “That doesn’t make any sense!” And guess what? Many members of Congress agree! This November, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear legislation that would make common sense updates to current law and extend Fourth Amendment protections to include the Internet.

New York, here’s where you come in. You are in a unique position to help defend our basic freedoms and protect online privacy! Your Senator, Chuck Schumer, is a member of the powerful Judiciary Committee that will decide the whether to move this legislation forward and protect the Bill of Rights, or let the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections wither and die. This bill has the potential for bi-partisan success, but Senator Schumer needs to hear from voters like YOU to make this a priority!

Can you pick up the phone and call him?  Right now?
Senator Chuck Schumer: 202-224-6542 (NYC office:  212-486-4430)

If you’re not sure what to say, follow this script. Speak slowly and clearly and be polite to a fault.

“Hello, my name is _________________. I’m from ___________________, New York, and I’m calling to urge Senator Schumer to support Chairman Leahy’s H.R. 2471 when it goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee this November. This bill is a simple, common sense measure that preserves the original intent of the Constitution and helps uphold the integrity of law enforcement. I know that the Senator cares deeply about protecting individual liberties and supporting small businesses, and I hope that he will support this legislation that guarantees Fourth Amendment protections to individuals and businesses in a rapidly changing world.”

If you’d like to learn more first, here are some talking points, as well as some further reading:
  • Tell your Senator that you care about freedom and privacy and encourage them to vote in favor ofChairman Leahy’s H.R. 2471 when it goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee in November.
  • The Leahy bill has common sense updates that preserve the original intent of the Fourth Amendment and ensure that Americans continue to enjoy freedom, privacy, and security.
  • These are not NEW rights, the bill will simply extend the same right to privacy we have for our postal mail, personal files, and phone calls to their modern equivalents: e-mail, cloud storage, and text messages.
  • The Leahy bill provides additional clarity for law enforcement to do their jobs and will balance national security with civil rights. With these amendments, the U.S. will be more secure and more free.
Decide for yourself. You can read the full text of Leahy’s amendment here, scroll to “Title II: Electronic Communications Privacy:” http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/upload/Leahy-Substitute-HR-2471.pdf

For even more info, check out these articles:

“The End of Privacy,” New York Times, July 14, 2012.