Brief

Lawmakers reintroduce bill to ensure email privacy after Senate stall in 2016

Dive Brief:

  • A bipartisan group of House lawmakers, including Reps. Kevin Yoder, R-KS, and Jared Polis, D-CO, reintroduced the Email Privacy Act Monday after the bill stalled in the Senate last year.

  • "After spending two decades in the technology sector where things evolve at light speed, it is hard to believe that we’re starting another year with laws that were written for how computing worked in the 1980s," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-WA, in a statement.

  • The law would require law enforcement authorities to get a search warrant before asking technology companies to hand over emails more than 180 days old. Currently, agencies only need a subpoena to seek such data from a service provider. The Email Privacy Act would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was written before cloud computing became widely used.

Dive Insight:

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Email Privacy Act in April with a vote of 419-0, but the bill stalled in the Senate in May after Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced an amendment that would give the Federal Bureau of Investigation more power to request personal customer records from service providers.

The tech industry and privacy advocates have been supportive of the legislation.

This is an important issue for all businesses to watch. Because the ECPA has not been updated, the law continues to impact companies existing in today’s tech world. Any business that deal with the flow of electronic communication — email providers, messaging platforms, and so on — has a stake in how easy it is for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to obtain their customers’ private communications.

Filed Under: Security Infrastructure