Mark this in the 75% good, 25% bad column: the House of Representatives voted to limit parts of the Patriot Act.
In a slap at President Bush, lawmakers voted Wednesday to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using the Patriot Act to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.
Despite a veto threat from President Bush, lawmakers voted 238-187 to block the part of the antiterrorism law that allows the government to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects.
The vote reversed a narrow loss last year by lawmakers complaining about threats to privacy rights. They narrowed the proposal this year to permit the government to continue to seek out records of internet use at libraries.
Unfortunately, this is not all good news. The provision to allow access to internet use records is still very troubling. Add this to some libraries testing biometrics-controlled access to public-use computers (courtesy of Shmoo), and there is still an awful lot of privacy being invaded here.
But still, this is a surprising step in the right direction. The PATRIOT Act was a terrifying law which trampled all over personal liberties. It is good to see actual bipartisan efforts to restore some of those personal liberties.