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Senate blocks access to online data without warrant

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Kenneth Mulcahy
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View photosIn this photo taken Feb. 17, 2016, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, center speaks via video conference to people in the Johns Hopkins University auditorium in Baltimore.

After the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, senior Republicans had pressed for allowing the FBI to obtain a person's digital fingerprints without first securing a judge's permission.

But the Senate rejected the amendment 58-38, two votes short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the measure that would give federal law enforcement direct access to email and text message logs, internet browsing histories and other potentially sensitive online data.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., opposed the amendment and decried what he said was the hypocrisy of defending gun rights while pushing for a measure that would undermine the constitutional prohibition against unlawful search and seizures.

The Senate on Monday rejected plans to curb firearms, with many Republicans refusing to approve any legislation that would infringe on the broad right to bear arms.

Three years ago, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations about the agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' phone records set off a fierce debate, pitting civil libertarians concerned about privacy against more hawkish lawmakers fearful about losing tools to combat terrorism.

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Kenneth Mulcahy
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