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Republican Senate tries to hijack "cell phone privacy" bill to help Bush's domestic spying program, and help telcoms keep you less safe

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You gotta love the Republicans. Never miss an opportunity to throw some pork onto legislation that should be a no-brainer and shouldn't be partisan.

Their latest? Taking the cell phone privacy legislation that they've been sitting on for nine months and finally moving it forward. Oh but there's a catch. They'll only pass the bill if it somehow saves George Bush's domestic spying program (why are the two related? I'm a bit creeped out now.) AND, they want the federal legislation to pre-empt state legislation already in place on the matter - why? - because many states require the telcoms to actually have better procedures in place to protect your privacy. And God forbid the phone companies actually protect their customers' privacy. So the Republicans controlling the Senate are working out a deal to repeal those state laws. Nice. Never miss a chance to help a donor.

Honestly, this smacks of an effort to kill the legislation, a poison pill. And it stinks. Why doesn't the Republican congress want to protect your phone records from complete strangers who can simply buy them on the Internet?

Differences over whether to pre-empt existing state laws reportedly is the sticking point to a Senate consensus on a federal bill against "pretexting," a practice in which Internet-based brokers fraudulently obtain and sell telephone records, sources said late Tuesday.

Several Capitol Hill sources and consumer watchdogs said that Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is insisting that language negotiated with the Senate Judiciary Committee pre-empt state laws on the subject.

Stevens' measure, S. 2389, would override state mandates that require telecommunications carriers or Internet-enabled voice services to "develop, implement or maintain procedures for protecting confidentiality of customer proprietary network information," according to a staff working draft. ...

If a pretexting bill with state pre-emption is enacted, it could halt state investigations by utility commissions into the lawfulness of electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the American Civil Liberties Union argues.
This is absolutely disgusting. Kill this bill. I'd rather have pre-texting remain legal - and I'll start buying member of Congress' phone records - than to have them use this legislation as a chance to let the phone companies off the hook on protecting our privacy, AND to use this to somehow exonerate George Bush's domestic spying. That is just sick. And people wonder why the Republicans are losing control of the Congress.

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