I applaud the effort to require warrants to search email. Even if it’s old email. Kudos to Sen. Pat Leahy. If I had my way significant parts of the Patriot act would have had their sunset and began the trip into history along with Osama Bin Laden. It’s a rare thing for liberties or civil rights to be restored without far more drama than like a bill going through due process. Please contact your representatives and encourage this requirement.
A Senate committee on Thursday unanimously backed sweeping digital privacy protections requiring the government, for the first time, to get a probable-cause warrant to obtain e-mail and other content stored in the cloud.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, amends the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The amendment would nullify a provision that allows the government to acquire a suspect’s e-mail or other stored content from an internet service provider without showing probable cause that a crime was committed.
The development comes as e-mail privacy is again in the spotlight after FBI investigators uncovered an affair between then-CIA chief David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell after gaining access to e-mail accounts used by Broadwell.
Currently, the government can obtain e-mail without a warrant as long as the content has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more, and only needs to show, often via an administrative subpoena, that it has “reasonable grounds to believe” the information would be useful in an investigation.