Washington – Tomorrow Congress is scheduled to take up the Email Privacy Act on the House floor. The Email Privacy Act, introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Kevin Yoder (R-KS), is a bipartisan bill that aims to modernize the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to prevent Americans’ email from unwarranted government intrusion, in accordance with the Fourth Amendment.
The Email Privacy Act is the rare piece of legislation with broad, bipartisan support—it has more than 314 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, which is a supermajority. An amended version was favorably reported out of a markup in the House Judiciary Committee two weeks ago by a unanimous 28-0 vote.
The amended Email Privacy Act, while it does not include all of the introduced bill’s hoped-for fixes to ECPA, is important because it sets a nationwide standard requiring the government to get a warrant based on probable cause before accessing the contents of electronic communications like email, without a special carveout for civil agencies like the IRS and SEC. Given the ever-increasing quantity of personal information that Americans’ store in the cloud, this update to ECPA will afford much of that data the same protection from unlawful government access it would otherwise receive in the physical world.
Tomorrow’s House vote on the Email Privacy Act is a critical step in ensuring that Americans’ online privacy rights keep pace with technological progress in the digital world. CCIA is part of a broad coalition that supports the Email Privacy Act, and we urge the House of Representatives to swiftly pass these reforms.