US Senate Bill Would Let Feds Read Your Email Without a Warrant

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | 12:07 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy
Nov. 20, 2012 - This is very disturbing. As if we have not had enough erosion of privacy under the Obama Administration, now comes a proposal in the U.S. Senate to allow warrantless monitoring of your email. The bill is an amendment to H.R. 2471, a House bill that would make video privacy regulations less restrictive. The House of Representatives approved H.R. 2471 late last year.

"Back in September," reports TechDirt, "we wrote about how Senator Patrick Leahy had introduced a really good bill for ECPA reform. ECPA (the Electronic Communications Privacy Act) is an incredibly outdated bill concerning (as it says) the privacy of electronic messages. It was written in a time (the mid-1980s) before everyone had email, let alone everyone used web-based, cloud-stored email. And thus, it has weird provisions, such as considering that messages stored on a server for more than 180 days are "abandonded" and thus subject to very little privacy protections. And that's just one of many, many problems with ECPA, which treats all kinds of messages differently."

CNET reports that is "has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week."

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