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Senate passes spying bill without search and browsing history protections

May 14, 2020

An effort to protect Americans’ browsing and search histories from warrantless government surveillance failed by a single vote in the Senate on Wednesday. The privacy measure, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) got 59 votes, one vote fewer than was needed to overcome a filibuster.

The vote was over a section of federal surveillance law that was originally part of the USA Patriot Act in 2001. That provision, known as Section 215, gave the FBI the power to obtain “any tangible thing,” including “books, records, papers, documents, and other items,” without a warrant.

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