Industry Groups Urge Senate to Pass Email Privacy Act As-Is
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The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act in an unanimous voice vote on Monday, reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to access emails 180 days or more old. The Act will now be considered by the Senate, where it stalled last year.
After passing the House in a unanimous vote last May, Senate Republicans sought to rewrite the Act to expand FBI powers, and it failed to reach a vote.
“We applaud the House for passing the Email Privacy Act,” limited-government think-tank and advocacy group FreedomWorks said in a statement. “As we continue to rely more and more on electronic communication, we need an upgrade to the Fourth Amendment. We need to reclaim it. Current law suggests that you don’t have a reasonable right to privacy on communication over 180 days old. Private communication is private, regardless of whether a third party is used to convey information or how long it has been.”
“The Email Privacy Act should be passed by the Senate as is. We will reject any attempt to water down, weaken, or stonewall the privacy protections in this bill.”
Numerous companies and advocacy groups released statements in support of the legislation.
i2Coalition Policy and Board Chair David Snead stated, “The Email Privacy Act aligns access to data with the Constitution. The clear rules set out in the Act will help U.S. based Internet companies to compete in the global marketplace.”
“i2Coalition has been a relentless voice for reform of ECPA. The outdated rules make it difficult for U.S. businesses to create effective privacy policies and assist law enforcement,” Snead said. “The warrantless access to data under ECPA is contrary to Federal due process requirements, which undermines consumer confidence in the privacy of data. The complex, outmoded set of rules for access to data in ECPA makes developing compliance plans costly and difficult, and increases the possibility that sensitive information will be disclosed.”
Snead concluded, “On behalf of the Internet infrastructure community, I would like to thank Reps. Jared Polis and Kevin Yoder for continuing to push to make ECPA reform a reality. As this bill moves on to the Senate, i2Coalition looks forward to making the case that ECPA reform is vital for the continued growth of the Internet’s infrastructure in the United States of America.”
The i2Coalition also said that the Act would restore consumer confidence in cloud and the internet in general when it was tabled in January.