Sen. Judic. Comm. Passes Bill Requiring Warrant for Email

The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed a bill, originally proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and require law enforcement to get a search warrant for emails that have been in electronic storage for more than 180 days. (A search warrant is currently required for emails in storage less than 180 days.)

Here is a copy of the bill.

Contrary to Republican disinformation, it would not affect terror cases, since there a provision that explicitly excludes FISA. [More...]

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Sen. Leahy's Denial of Support for Warrantless Email Searches

Yesterday, Declan McCullagh of CNET wrote an article stating that Sen. Patrick Leahy, bowing to pressure from conservatives and law enforcement groups, was revising his proposed bill amending the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) to strengthen privacy rights and now going in the opposite direction. He posted a draft of a leaked copy of the amended bill (available here.) McCullagh wrote:

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Leahy's rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies -- including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission -- to access Americans' e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant.

Hours later, Sen. Leahy denied drafting or supporting the circulated revision of his proposed bill. [More...]

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