Menu
US takes another shot at stopping warrantless reading of emails

US takes another shot at stopping warrantless reading of emails

The bill was introduced Wednesday in the Senate and House of Representatives

Legislation that aims to put a stop to warrantless reading of emails got a fillip Wednesday with bills introduced both in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The bipartisan "Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015" will require the government to have a search warrant to obtain the content of Americans' emails and other electronic communications stored with a third-party service provider, even if it is older than 180 days.

It will also require that the government notify the person whose account was disclosed, and provide him with a copy of the search warrant and other details about the information obtained. The notice has to be provided within 10 business days of receipt of the communications for a law enforcement agency, and three business days for other agencies, unless a court order to delay notification is obtained.

The ECPA was written in 1986 and its provisions have been used by law enforcement to claim the right to access emails older than 180 days without a probable cause warrant.

The law did not anticipate the services available to people today and the low cost of online storage, and assumed that people would download mail to their computers and not keep mail on third-party servers for such a long period as beyond 180 days, according to civil rights groups.

The new legislation was submitted in the Senate by Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah and Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont. Representatives Kevin Yoder, a Kansas Republican and Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado sponsored the House version of the bill. The Senate bill has six additional cosponsors, while the House version has 228 additional cosponsors.

"These reforms would protect Americans' digital privacy -- in their emails, and all the other files and photographs they store in the cloud," Leahy said in a statement Wednesday.

Bipartisan ECPA reform bills have been introduced for the third year running in the Senate and House, said digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Last year, despite the fact that bills identical to those introduced today were passed out of committee in the Senate, and had more than 260 co-sponsors in the House, neither made it to a floor vote," EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo wrote in a post on Wednesday.

Nearly identical legislation from Leahy and Lee, introduced to protect the privacy of emails, texts, social media posts and other electronic communications, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee as way back as April 2013. The issue has been live since then. In December 2013, Google, for example, urged people to sign a petition to tell the government to get a warrant to read emails.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. SenateGooglesecurityU.S. House of RepresentativesinternetprivacyElectronic Frontier Foundation

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments