Senate Approves Warrantless Phone Tapping for Next Five YearsS

By a vote of 73 to 23, the US Senate just voted for the warrantless surveillance of American citizens until 2017.

The vote, set to affirm to eradicate the FAA Sunsets Extension Act of 2012, means we'll be living with Bush-era spy laws for another half decade. In 2007, the Senate voted to grant blanket immunity to companies like AT&T, which conspired with the NSA to monitor American digital conversations without government oversight after 9/11. Today's vote continues that immunity, and provides further carte blanche for the American intelligence-gathering apparatus. Phone calls, texts, and emails are all fair game—and a judge doesn't have to give the OK, so long as it's in the name of counterterrorism. Which is a very easy guise.

This should anger and worry you. The EFF has a nice summary of why:

The FISA Amendments Act continues to be controversial; key portions of it were challenged in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. In brief, the law allows the government to get secret FISA court orders-orders that do not require probable cause like regular warrants-for any emails or phone calls going to and from overseas. The communications only have to deal with "foreign intelligence information," a broad term that can mean virtually anything. And one secret FISA order can be issued against groups or categories of people-potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans at once.

The bill now goes to Obama for his signature, which it wil almost surely get—he's a vocal supporter of the legislation. Domestic spying will be a reality for the rest of his administration, and beyond. [C-SPAN]

Photo by Jacob Appelbaum