Cruz-Klobuchar Amendment Would Give Lawmakers Powers To Scrub Private Information From The Internet

In a move that will raise eyebrows amongst transparency proponents, US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are gearing up to put forth an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that could provide lawmakers with unprecedented powers to censor a plethora of internet-based information. The proposed change, however, has sparked concerns around potential censorship of news reports and impingements upon freedom of speech. The proposed legislation would extend the privilege to lawmakers, their family members, select congressional staff identified as high-risk, and individuals cohabitating with lawmakers, enabling them to demand the extensive elimination of certain personal data online, referred to as “covered information.” The amendment enumerates “covered information” to include home addresses, secondary residences, personal email accounts, cell phone numbers, and other personal and sensitive travel details. Furthermore, the amendment equips lawmakers with the power to obliterate private data amassed by digital devices, including apps. This is proposed as a response to fears of lawmakers being located precisely based on this data. Despite the legitimate anxiety around personal data being traded by data brokers, the new amendment would equip lawmakers with a set of privacy rights which would be inaccessible to ordinary citizens, who might be similarly vulnerable to security risks. The proposed amendment, though, has precipitated concerns about press freedom. Investigative journalism often requires accessing private information of lawmakers. The new amendment could seriously impede such investigations. Past instances of influence peddling, often cloaked by home-related favors, might have gone unexposed under this amendment, Lee Fang…Cruz-Klobuchar Amendment Would Give Lawmakers Powers To Scrub Private Information From The Internet