Yesterday, January 29, the U.S. Senate passed S. Res. 402, that expresses support for the observance of National Data Privacy Day this year. A problem with the resolution is that National Data Privacy Day was the day before, January 28.
Even if the resolution had been passed on time, what difference would it have made? It was toothless, little more than a legislative press release, containing no power to actually protect the data privacy of American citizens. When it comes to laws that would actually require the respect of Americans’ data privacy, the U.S. Senate isn’t lifting a finger.
The Senate is doing nothing to overturn the FISA Amendments Act, which established a legal justification for a massive electronic surveillance system, and even allowed government agents to conduct physical searches through Americans’ homes and offices without a search warrant. What’s more, the Senate is working to extend the Patriot Act, which was supposed to expire years ago. The Patriot Act grants the federal government extreme powers to search through the private data created as Americans go about their personal business, and makes it a crime for people drafted by the government into these spying programs to tell anyone about what’s going on.
In the face of the Senate’s repeated on-the-record votes against data privacy, it’s an outrageous hypocrisy for senators to vote for a resolution that suggests the observance of National Data Privacy Day – a day after the actual event is over. Let’s not suppose that the problem is merely restricted to the U.S. Senate, however. The House of Representatives didn’t even bother passing a resolution recognizing National Data Privacy Day this year.