Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Executive Business Meeting
Thursday, September 13, 2012
On the agenda today, we’re prepared to take up S.645, the Child Protection Improvements Act.
There’s a nominee and five other bills on the agenda for the first time. We have a request on our side to hold those over.
With regard to the nomination, when that is debated, we may have to go into closed session.
Regarding H.R. 2471, a bill to amend the Video Privacy Protection Act, it’s my understanding that the Chairman intends to file an amendment. His amendment will make significant changes to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a statute passed in 1986.
We held a hearing on ECPA in April of last year. That was a limited hearing where only two federal officials testified.
I have heard concerns about this amendment from state and local law enforcement officials. These officials are concerned with the impact this amendment may have on law enforcement operations.
Specifically, I have heard concerns about how this could impact cases where time is of the essence, namely kidnapping and child abduction cases.
Further, I have heard concerns from the executive branch that these changes could adversely impact ongoing operations.
For example, there’s a concern that requiring a criminal search warrant could render civil subpoenas from regulatory agencies unenforceable for certain emails. This could impact insider trading investigations, antitrust investigations, and civil rights cases at various federal agencies.
Because there is no formal views letter from the Administration, I asked for technical assistance from the Justice Department. Based upon that assistance, I understand that the amendment could adversely affect the Department’s activities.
While we are holding this bill over this week, I want to make sure others are aware of these concerns.
I look forward to working with the Chairman over the next week to address these concerns to ensure that we don’t unduly burden law enforcement, government regulators or the courts.
On the Child Protection Improvements Act, it’s important to enhance the ability of child service organizations to obtain background checks. I appreciate that the Senator from New York has agreed to a number of suggestions to clarify the amendment he will offer to his bill.
I believe our side would agree to voice votes on both the amendment and the bill.