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Warrantless E-mail Access for Feds Shelved

Patrick Leahy's bill that intended to deliver warrantless email access for American internet users to the U.S. government has been shelved.

The Senator said in a press release that his latest amendments to the bill will adhere strictly to protecting privacy as opposed to the exact opposite.

The bill no longer includes mention of allowing more than 22 agencies (including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission) to access Americans' private e-mails, as well as their Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant.

Leahy, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had responded to the bill amended last week by abandoning his proposal and stressing he remains committed to protecting privacy rights for American citizens.

"I hope that all members of the Committee will join me in supporting the effort in Congress to update this law to protect Americans' privacy," he said.

Privacy groups and industry representatives are now set to vote on the revised proposal, which is due for a committee vote on Thursday. The amended bill "protects the central privacy provision that we put forward," says Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel for the ACLU.

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