Apple-supported US Email Privacy Act passes unanimous House vote, with compromises

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The U.S. House of Representatives has voted unanimously to pass the Email Privacy Act, a bill that has the backing of a coalition of major technology businesses including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.




To become law the bill must still pass through the Senate, and then be signed by the President, TechCrunch noted. The legislation updates 1986's Electronic Communications Privacy Act, officially requiring federal agencies to get a search warrant for email over 180 days old. So far agencies have only needed a subpoena, something much easier to obtain.

The current version of the bill is weakened from a previous draft, which would've required that agencies disclose a warrant to a targeted individual within 10 days, or three days if the warrant was connected to a government entity.

The bill is of special interest to tech corporations like Apple, which are increasingly banking their reputation and future sales on promises of privacy. The trend dates back to 2013, when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent ot the NSA's mass surveillance programs -- including "PRISM," which involved the participation (willing or unwilling) of major tech firms like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. All of those firms initially denied their involvement, despite evidence.

Apple has adopted perhaps the most aggressive stance, for example actively challenging requests to help unlock iPhones in cases where Apple would be forced to undermine its own encryption. The company's effort to bring cloud infrastructure in-house may even be motivated by worries about backdoors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,432member
    Is there no requirement for customer notification (such as the 90- or 180-day grace period in the case of financial institutions)? Or is it just not so short as 10 days?
  • Reply 2 of 10
    irelandireland Posts: 17,534member
    Obama should be thanking Snowden, he gave him the transparency he campaigned on.
    lostkiwibaconstangtallest skil
  • Reply 3 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,816member
    cpsro said:
    Is there no requirement for customer notification (such as the 90- or 180-day grace period in the case of financial institutions)? Or is it just not so short as 10 days?
    Here's the bill as approved by the House. See section 3, subsection 2, "Subscriber or Customer Information". Also Section 4. 
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/699/text?q={"search":["\"hr699\""]}&resultIndex=1
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 4 of 10
    And there's yet another angle gaining traction in some media outlets today: Diane Rehm's show highlighted a proposal to allow police officers immediate roadside access to smartphone usage details, in the event of an accident or other driving incident.  It's being touted as the electronic equivalent of field breathalyzer tests.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 639member
    ireland said:
    Obama should be thanking Snowden, he gave him the transparency he campaigned on.
    wrong. we should be (and most of us are) thanking edward snowden because transparency (and whistleblowing) in government is worse than it's ever been under obama's watch. a simple search brought this: http://www.businessinsider.com/government-transparency-is-the-worst-its-been-since-obama-took-office-2015-3?op=1

    there are other reliable sources out there. feel free to look them up.
    lostkiwicyberzombiejbdragon
  • Reply 6 of 10
    mac_dog said:
    ireland said:
    Obama should be thanking Snowden, he gave him the transparency he campaigned on.
    wrong. we should be (and most of us are) thanking edward snowden because transparency (and whistleblowing) in government is worse than it's ever been under obama's watch. a simple search brought this: http://www.businessinsider.com/government-transparency-is-the-worst-its-been-since-obama-took-office-2015-3?op=1

    there are other reliable sources out there. feel free to look them up.
    I interpreted ireland's comment as wryly making pretty much the same point.
    lostkiwibaconstangsteveh
  • Reply 7 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,816member
    In very related news the Supreme Court today indicated it is willing to expand the network hacking powers of the FBI

    "The Supreme Court approved hotly contested amendments to federal criminal procedure today that, if accepted by Congress, will expand the FBI’s ability to hack into computer networks.

    The rule at the heart of the debate is Criminal Rule 41, which limits judges’ authority to authorize search warrants. Magistrate judges can usually only approve warrants within their jurisdiction — for instance, a magistrate judge in San Francisco typically can’t authorize a search in Brooklyn.

    Today’s changes to Rule 41 would allow judges to “issue a warrant to use remote access to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information located within or outside that district.” Simply, it will allow an FBI agent sitting in Virginia to hack into a computer or network in Nevada — or anywhere in the world.

    The Justice Department has been eager to change this rule as it works to keep up with crime online, but advocacy organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and tech giants like Google have opposed the change, arguing that changing Rule 41 would give the FBI unconstitutional hacking authority.

    The FBI wants the ability to go to a judge in their area and get a search warrant for a suspect’s computer, even if that suspect is located thousands of miles away. If a suspect has taken steps to anonymize themselves online, an investigator might not know where a suspect is located when he asks a judge for a warrant."

    http://techcrunch.com/2016/04/28/supreme-court-moves-to-expand-fbis-hacking-authority/

    badmonk
  • Reply 8 of 10
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    ireland said:
    Obama should be thanking Snowden, he gave him the transparency he campaigned on.

  • Reply 9 of 10
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 749member
    One would hope this requirement would also include text messages since it is largely supplanting email these days (which is overrun with spam).
  • Reply 10 of 10
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    badmonk said:
    One would hope this requirement would also include text messages since it is largely supplanting email these days (which is overrun with spam).
    Can’t wait for the text spam! /s
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