Congress, at Last Minute, Drops Requirement to Obtain Warrant to Monitor Email

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The federal government will continue to access Americans’ emails without a warrant, after the U.S. Senate dropped a key amendment to legislation now headed to the White House for approval.


Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment attached to the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act (which deals with publishing users’ Netflix information on Facebook pages) that would have required federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant before monitoring email or other data stored remotely (i.e., the cloud).


The Senate was set to approve the video privacy bill along with the email amendment, which would have applied to a different law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. But then senators decided for reasons unknown to drop the amendment.


Currently, the government can collect emails and other cloud data without a warrant as long as the content has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more. Federal agents need only demonstrate that they have “reasonable grounds to believe” the information would be useful in an investigation.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Congress Defeats E-Mail Privacy Legislation—Again (by David Kravets, Wired)

Senate Committee Approves Bill Requiring Warrants for E-Mail (by David Kravets, Wired)

Obama Fights to Retain Warrantless Wiretapping (by Matt Bewig and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

See all 14 comments


MrPrivacy 11 years ago
If you are considering trying something other than unencrypted email for electronic sharing, consider ThreadThat dot com. It is a free, easy-to-use web app that provides end-to-end encryption of messages and files. Protect your privacy.
nunya 11 years ago
Better not try it till I can read YOUR email, congressman...
FedUp 11 years ago
Well if I delete my email accounts, my facebook account and all the other accounts I have online, then the government can't read my emails. HA take that government!
Francois 11 years ago
at a minimum, technology should be used by Government so that, when they STEAL your private correspondence, very large bold black letters appear after you press the "send" button to the effect "Hello. This is your Government. The same Government which has cost you trillions for wars based upon packs of lies, irradiates and molests you when traveling, based upon terrorist attacks of which we not only had prior knowledge but which we let you know about in our own criminal and profiteering way through the collusively-produced films. We will read, dissect, categorise, and retain your private correspondences, and that's just the part we are telling you. What do YOU think real people with this much power will do with some of you privately-expressed thoughts? Yeah, it's that bad, and worse. But hey, thanks. The future World Ruler thanks you, as well."
Howard T. LewisIII 11 years ago
The U.S. Congress, mewling vermin under orders from the 'Grand Patron'.
alice harris 11 years ago
how sad that this opportunity to do the right thing was totally blown!
welcome to the new order 11 years ago
ban email!
David 11 years ago
When was the requirement to obtain a warrant in the bill? I don't see it in the original proposal:
DDearborn 11 years ago
Hmmm SO first the government forces all internet providers to "save" copies of all our emails and then using an unconstitutional law allow themselves to read everything after 6 months. How soon will it be before they grant themselves the power to read everything in real time? Oh wait they have been doing it secretly for years......This is tyranny and treason on the part of the Congress.
America 11 years ago
I would like to know what is going in this country that they need do this. What makes them above us on what is going on they are just representatives sworn to an oath not some immortal power above all high and mighty and great. I think the county has been taken over by some foreign entity and is being robbed is what going on. I know this sounds stupid but it also sounds plausible.

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