New Electronic Privacy Bills Would Buttress 4th Amendment Protections For Online Communications

BY Heather Greenfield
February 4, 2015

Washington — Americans deserve privacy for their email!  The long-awaited Email Privacy Act is being reintroduced today in both the House and Senate. The legislation aims to reform existing laws to require the government to obtain a warrant before gaining access to email and other electronic communications.

This House legislative effort led by Congressmen Kevin Yoder and Jared Polis updates the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.  More than half the members of the House are co-sponsors.  A companion bill from Senators Mike Lee and Patrick Leahy is also being reintroduced in the Senate, and its language mirrors that of the House bill.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association continues to be an advocate for limits on government access to personal communications. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“As more communications take place online than imagined nearly 30 years ago, it is imperative that Congress move swiftly to enact these updates to protect the privacy of all citizens.  Both the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution embody core  principles that safeguard our freedom and democracy. Digital communications and content stored in the cloud must receive the same protection as physical papers and effects.

“To maintain a functioning democracy, we need adequate safeguards before the government is able to access the personal communications of the public. These bills protect the public while preserving legal tools to conduct criminal investigations.

“Ensuring public trust in the sanctity of their communications is essential.  Without public trust, the Internet cannot reach its full potential as a communications and commercial platform.

“We commend the work that went into gathering such strong bipartisan and bicameral coordination. We are encouraged that with this strong support, our outdated digital privacy laws will finally be updated this year.”

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