Maybe Congress Will Now Move to Protect Email From Warrantless Searches


Brian Fung reports that yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling protecting smartphones from warrantless searches may be having a ripple effect:

Members of Congress who back stronger protections for e-mail and other electronic communications have begun citing the Court’s landmark privacy endorsement, in an attempt to add momentum to their own privacy legislation.

The push to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a decades-old law that allows cops to read your e-mails if they’ve lain dormant for more than 180 days, has the support of the Justice Department and 220 cosponsors of a House bill known as the Email Privacy Act. The proposal would force police to get a warrant if they want to look at a suspect’s e-mail. Today, that type of inspection requires little more than a subpoena.

Remarkably enough, 138 of these cosponsors are Republicans and 82 are Democrats. This means it not only has majority support within the House as a whole, but it also has the support of considerably more than half the Republican caucus. That doesn’t mean it can get by House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, but maybe if another hundred Democrats sign on, even Goodlatte will crumble in the face of a bill supported by three-quarters of the House.

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