Get a warrant: Tech companies ask lawmakers to rein in digital surveillance

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Tech companies are asking Congress to strengthen the privacy protections around search engines and web browsers as lawmakers enter the late stage of negotiations on a bill about government surveillance.Mozilla, Reddit and Twitter as well as a coalition that includes Facebook and Google were among those that signed on to a letter released Friday asking House leaders to require the Justice Department to get a warrant before obtaining someone’s search or browser history, even in national security cases.Byers Market NewsletterGet breaking news and insider analysis on the rapidly changing world of media and technology right to your inbox.The letter comes as the House is considering a reauthorization of key surveillance laws, including some provisions that date to the 2001 USA Patriot Act.“Search and browsing history can provide a detailed portrait of our private lives,” the companies said in the letter. “It may reveal medical conditions, religious beliefs, and personal relationships, and it should be protected by effective legal safeguards.”The Patriot Act, passed immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, authorized federal prosecutors to obtain a wide swath of business records, including from search engine and web browser makers, without getting the warrant typically required by the …

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