More Than Half Of The House Co-Sponsoring Email Privacy Reform; So Why Isn't It Moving?
from the ecpa-reform-now dept
For quite some time we’ve talked about the importance of ECPA reform. ECPA — the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — is woefully outdated. Passed in the 1980s, when the internet was just a small network that connected a few universities, it has allowed law enforcement and other government officials to snoop on your email based on some very outdated definitions and assumptions. As we’ve discussed in the past, one very obvious example, is the idea that, under the law, emails stored on a server for over 180 days are considered “abandoned” and that there’s no need to get a warrant to view those emails. Of course, that was back when people expected old emails to be either deleted or downloaded. No one predicted “cloud” computing with virtually unlimited storage.
For years now, there’s been a major effort at ECPA reform, to actually make sure that law enforcement needs a warrant to view your emails. It has had strong support in Congress for some time, but the main folks fighting against it are the SEC and the IRS, who like the fact that they can search through your emails without a warrant. In fact, the SEC seems to revel in its ability to do some very questionable things, in part thanks to ECPA.
Earlier this week, the main ECPA reform bill in the House, sponsored by Reps. Kevin Yoder and Jared Polis, hit a new milestone: it currently has 218 co-sponsors, meaning that more than half of the House now has their name on the bill. And yet, the bill is still stalled out, because House leadership has been scared off by the SEC and IRS. Hopefully, the House will finally move forward on this bill.
And while Yoder notes in that article that the NSA revelations have actually helped give this bill momentum, it’s important to note that this is separate from the NSA reform issue. ECPA reform is unrelated to the NSA stuff, but covers what other government agencies can do with your email. Both are important issues, but it would be great to finally get basic ECPA reform through. This is a fight that’s been going on for over a decade, and with more than half the House supporting it, how much longer can Congressional leadership ignore it?