By Ryan J. Reilly
Four members of the House of Representatives introduced legislation on Thursday that would prevent agencies from obtaining phone records from Americans without a court order, in the wake of the controversy involving the Justice Department subpoenaing Associated Press phone records.
H.R. 2014, the Telephone Records Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and would require court approval for the government to demand phone records from service providers.
"The Justice Department's seizure of the AP's phone records -- likely without the sign-off of a single judge -- raises serious First and Fourth Amendment concerns. Regardless of whether DOJ violates the legitimate privacy expectations of reporters or ordinary Americans, we deserve to know that the federal government can't seize our records without judicial review," Amash said in a statement.
"Americans of all political stripes were shocked to find out that the Department of Justice had been accessing telephone records of reporters at the Associated Press," Polis stated. "The Department of Justice claims that they operated within the confines of the law, which makes it abundantly clear that we need to provide a higher level of protection against government intrusion into an individual's private records. I am excited to be working with Representatives Amash, Lofgren, and Mulvaney on this important privacy protection bill."
Mulvaney said he was "honestly surprised to learn that the government could get this sort of private, personal information without a court order. If that is indeed the law, as the Department of Justice insists that it is, then the law needs to change."