New Bills Introduced To Protect Email Privacy

Recently, U.S. lawmakers introduced two bills that would have a huge impact on the country’s law regarding electronic privacy. The Bills call for law enforcement agencies to apply for court-ordered warrants if they want to inspect web or cloud-based data for more than six months. The acts that lawmakers would like to get approved are called, the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad act (LEADS Act), and the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act.

Currently, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act has been in existence for the last 29 years, and it does not require for law enforcement agencies to ask permission to access data more than six months old. In other words, the federal government can read any of your emails, without a warrant, if they are more than six months old. Interestingly, the the law was enacted in 1986, a time when much of the U.S. public (and world) didn?t have email addresses to their name.

Republican rep, Kevin Yoder believes that, ?The government is essentially using an arcane loophole to breach the privacy rights of Americans? They couldn?t kick down your door and seize the documents on your desk, but they could send a request to Google and ask for all the documents that are in your Gmail account. And I don?t think Americans believe that the Constitution ends with the invention of the internet.?

Momentum for the bill to pass is increasing, especially since the revelations that the National Security Agency had been spying on Americans for the better part of the last decade and a half. So it comes as no surprise that Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter are all lobbying for the bill to pass too. (That said, the two bills do not protect metadata, like customer names, locations etc).

Regarding the momentum that the bill has, Yoder added that, ?When I discuss this with constituents at home, they’re frankly stunned to know that in this day and age government still believes they can sift through and spy on Americans? email correspondence without any sort of due process? I would say many members of Congress were not aware of this and are becoming aware and the momentum is growing? I don?t know that any bill has as many co-sponsors, so it may be one of the fastest bills out of the gate in the new congress.?