Lawmakers tackle email privacy

March 2, 2014 at 3:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- Lawmakers have proposed legislation that would bar law enforcement agencies from obtaining emails in investigations without warrants.

The Email Privacy Act, proposed by Reps. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., Tom Graves, R-Ga., and Jared Polis, D-Colo., updates the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows authorities to obtain emails without a warrant if they have been stored electronically for more than 180 days, The Hill reported Sunday.

The act has 181 co-sponsors in the House, and the authors are "still pushing to get more," said a spokesman for Yoder.

"There's a lot of growing support for that bill," said Mark Stanley of the Center for Democracy and Technology. "A lot of members of Congress see this as a common sense thing."

Experts say revelations of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs have derailed conversations about warrantless email access.

"Everyone has been so focused on the NSA," said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom. "That's the story."

"What we've seen is just an amount of information that has overtaken congressional offices and the American people," added Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "ECPA certainly has taken a back seat, like many other tech reforms."

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