House Votes Unanimously In Favor Of Requiring A Warrant To Search Emails
from the yay! dept
The push to reform ECPA — the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — have been going on basically as long as this site has been in existence (i.e. nearly 20 years). There are lots of problems with ECPA, but the big one that everyone points to is that it considers any communication that’s on a server more than 180 days to be “abandoned” and accessible without a warrant. That perhaps made some amount of sense back in 1986 when the law was written, because everything was client-server and you downloaded your email off the server. But in an age of cloud computing and webmail it makes no sense at all. Still, the IRS and the SEC really, really liked the ability to use ECPA to snoop on people’s emails.
In the past few years, Congress has kept supporting reform, but it always dies when some part of the administration complains and tries to block it. And yet, each time it enters Congress, it gets more and more sponsors. And, finally, the full House has voted to pass the Email Privacy Act. It was no surprise that it passed. The bill had an astounding 315 cosponsors. Seriously:
The bill is certainly not perfect, and could be improved, but it’s nice to see the House get the basics right. Now, we wait and see what happens in the Senate… Will the Senate ignore a unanimous House and let this bill just die, or will it finally do the right thing and protect email privacy?