Senate Committee Approves ECPA Reform That Requires Warrants; But Will It Ever Become Law?

from the doubtful dept

As we had hoped earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee did, in fact, approve Senator Patrick Leahy's attempt at ECPA reform, which would require law enforcement to do something crazy like "get a warrant" before sifting through your email. The bill was approved despite law enforcement types freaking out that they might actually have to ask a court for permission. Senator Chuck Grassley, as expected, introduced an amendment that would have greatly weakened the warrant requirement for various federal agencies, but it was thankfully voted down.

Of course, at this point, the victory is largely symbolic, as it's happening in a lameduck Congress. The bill still needs to pass the full Senate and have a comparable House version pass as well. In other words: nothing is happening until next year when this whole process may need to repeat. And given some of the quotes from Grassley and law enforcement, there will be yet another effort to strip some of these warrant requirements. Still, it's nice to see that there's at least some recognition in Congress that electronic privacy laws are woefully out of date, and leave private information, such as emails, way too open to law enforcement snooping.


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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:33am

    Warrants?
    We dont need no stinkin warrants.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 7:14am

    I see, so when it comes to laws like SOPA, they try their best to pass them as soon as possible the day before they enter the holiday vacations, but when it comes to passing laws like these, they are taking their sweet time?

     

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    Violated (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 10:37am

    ECPA

    I think passing the Senate is a positive sign and they did indeed strike down that awful amendment.

    There is a long way to go yet but I would believe most Members of Congress do recognize that the power of the Administration does need to be restricted and applied carefully.

    No US Citizen can be happy that any number of Government agencies can spy into their bedrooms and bathrooms without any sign of a Court order. Sure as Hell is it unlawful but they just don't care when these unlawful acts cannot be punished.

    These days large parts of the US Government are on a huge data grab from connections, websites, email, cell phone towers and much more. This should be for people not US Citizens but again they care none.

    Even forcing them to get Court orders helps little when on a one sided story any Government agent can easily bullshit a Court judge 99.99999% of the time. You could say there is a record at least but of course Obama's secret Government locks up most things under seal to avoid being accountable.

    So all this ECPA is would be one small step in the right direction to keep this monster under some control.

     

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    McCrea (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:45pm

    Impotent Congress

    oh, I thought you said "limpdick Congress."

     

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