House Judiciary Committee votes unanimously to back law demanding warrants for old emails

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The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 28 to 0 to approve the Email Privacy Act, a long-delayed bill that would make it tougher for law enforcement agencies to ask tech companies for older communications data.




The Act is still some ways from becoming law, and might not even pass that threshold in 2016, Reuters said. The Judiciary Committee was only examining the bill, which must still pass steps like a vote by Congress before it can take effect.

If passed, the legislation would update 1986's Electronic Communication Privacy Act, forcing federal agencies to obtain a search warrant for email and other digital communications older than 180 days. At the moment the process is as simple as a subpoena, which has fewer legal safeguards.

The Email Privacy Act has the backing of a large coalition of corporations such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. While it also has the support of many in Congress, there are opponents in various sectors, concerned for instance that it might make it harder for the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate fraud.

Organizations like the National Association of Assistant US Attorneys and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have called for exemptions that would allow reading emails without a warrant, in cases of emergency.

For companies like Apple, the bill represents just another front in a conflict over privacy, security, and the limits restraining spy and law enforcement agencies. On Tuesday, FBI director James Comey appeared to align with Apple in suggesting encryption issues should be settled through Congress and not courts.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    This is astonishingly good news, especially considering the other recent tech-related crap from this committee (the bill that will essentially make end-to end encryption illegal).
  • Reply 2 of 9
    bob bane said:
    This is astonishingly good news, especially considering the other recent tech-related crap from this committee (the bill that will essentially make end-to end encryption illegal).
    It may not be easy to get your average lawmaker to understand encryption but every one of them understands the implications having their old emails accessible to whomever may decide to randomly investigate them. 
  • Reply 3 of 9
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,458member

    ... On Tuesday, FBI director James Comey ...
    Please stop using his name in articles. :s We know who he is and don't really care what he says.
    mwhite
  • Reply 4 of 9
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,819member
    Passing something like this through our financially manipulated congress is going to be as hard as passing a watermelon through a turtle's nostril
  • Reply 5 of 9
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,657member
    "Tennessee Bureau of Investigation" El Oh El
  • Reply 6 of 9

    Organizations like the National Association of Assistant US Attorneys and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have called for exemptions that would allow reading emails without a warrant, in cases of emergency.

    Well, problem solved ...


    Reminds me of the story a friend told about when he was dating in High School.

    During a torrid session, his date said:  "we can't go any farther -- because we aren't going steady."

    His reply: "OK, Let's go steady!"


    ... Just call everything is an emergency ...

    chasmdiplication
  • Reply 7 of 9
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,657member
    But what if the email contains a long-dormant cyber pathogen? Think of the children!

    /s
  • Reply 8 of 9
    So to avoid this problem, any government official that wanted to keep their email from being exposed should probably just set up their own private server to run their email through? 
  • Reply 9 of 9
    CMA102DLCMA102DL Posts: 121member
    Good. Let's keep making noise and letting our government know that our rights matter. This is what caused the FBI to drop the SB iPhone case against Apple. I think they care if we make a rukus.
    edited April 2016
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