Law Enforcement Officials Freak Out About Possibility Of Having To Get Warrants To Read Your Email
from the bill-delayed dept
The delay comes two days after a phalanx of law enforcement organizations objected to the legislation, asking Leahy to "reconsider acting" on it "until a more comprehensive review of its impact on law enforcement investigations is conducted." The groups included the National District Attorneys' Association and the National Sheriffs' Association.Of course it would have "adverse impact" on criminal investigations. So do lots of things -- but those are the rules law enforcement plays by in a free society. It's not built to make law enforcement's life easy.
[....] A person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have been expressing their displeasure about requiring search warrants. The department is on record as opposing such a requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an "adverse impact" on criminal investigations.
Either way, it appears that this bit of ECPA reform will get pushed off once again. Hopefully, when it comes back, it won't be watered down.
For what it's worth, both the EFF and the ACLU -- who strongly support ECPA reform similar to what Leahy has been proposing -- have also not been that happy with how Leahy introduced this bill, because they both oppose the changes to the VPPA, which they're afraid will weaken privacy for people. This is a (somewhat rare, but not unprecedented) situation where I disagree with both of those organizations. The VPPA was a specific and broad carve-out to deal with a single situation (bork bork bork). I think it's reasonable to update it to allow for things like letting people choose to let Netflix and social networks share info on what movies they've watched -- just like the can choose to show what music they listen to. I don't necessarily believe that it makes sense to link the VPPA to ECPA reform, but I don't think that passing the VPPA reform is so problematic that it should stop ECPA reform. Of course, if law enforcement has its way (and so far, that seems to be the case), ECPA reform might never happen. Is it really worth worrying about how you can choose to share your Netflix movies on Facebook while the Justice Department feels it can snoop broadly through your Gmail?