Senate Votes to Expand Privacy Rights To Americans Abroad
Wyden Amendment will require the federal government to secure a warrant before conducting surveillance on citizens outside the United States
"In the digital age, an American's relationship with his or her government should not depend on physical geography," Wyden said. "I think history will recognize this as an important achievement and a major step forward for privacy rights."
During the Intelligence Committee's consideration of the bill, Wyden introduced an amendment, co-sponsored by
After the senators' amendment was accepted by a bipartisan majority of the Committee, the White House objected to the provision, calling it "a step backwards." While Senator Wyden and his colleagues declined to accept the idea that Americans' rights should change when they travel abroad, they worked with both Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO) to modify the language to ensure that the amendment would not have unintended consequences. In the process, the modifications actually expand the amendment's original scope to include physical searches as well as electronic surveillance.
"Senator Feingold, Senator Whitehouse and I have put in a lot of hours fighting for this provision," Wyden said. "I would like to thank Senators Rockefeller and Bond for working with us not only to move this amendment forward, but to ensure that it will not have a negative impact on
Wyden voted against final passage of S.2248 because the bill also grants blanket retroactive immunity to any telecommunications company accused of participating in President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.