As your constituent, I urge you to oppose S. 2516, "The Fugitive
Apprehension Act," a bill that would drastically expand government power to
conduct secret searches without judicial approval.
I am concerned that this bill would allow law enforcement to obtain any kind
of document it wants, without first getting a search warrant or a subpoena
from a court. These documents include any written or electronic document
that I might possess or, more frighteningly, any document held by a third
party (such as bank records, credit card records, telephone records, school
records or an Internet Service Provider's customer records). The bill would
gut the Fourth Amendment requirement that private documents should be
searched only after a court issues a warrant based upon probable cause.
Even worse, this bill allows these searches and seizures to be conducted
secretly, so that I might never be told that my bank records, Internet
records or other documents have been taken by the government.
I understand that there is no law enforcement need for this provision. Under
current law, the government can go to court, and present reasons why it
needs access to private records. This system is working well, and, notably,
even the United States Attorneys are not asking to change the law. There is
no indication that the government needs to have this broad new authority.
Should S. 2516 become law, it would set a precedent for broad access to
information on other subjects. For this reason, groups like the National
Rifle Association and conservative Members of Congress such as Rep. Bob Barr
have joined with the ACLU to oppose this legislation.
Again, I urge you to oppose efforts to conduct secret searches without
judicial approval. Please reject S. 2516. I look forward to hearing your
thoughts on this important matter.
christopher l. filkins
santa monica, ca 90406-7323