Electronic Privacy Laws: Center Stage in the 114th Congress

The Email Privacy Act and its Senate Counterpart, the ECPA Amendments Act, which regulate government access to private communications, are set to play an important role early in the 114th Congress.

On Thursday January 22, proponents of this bill, including several large tech companies, sent a letter to both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees expressing their support for passing this legislation in its original form:

“The ECPA Amendments Act would update ECPA is one key respect, making it clear that, except in emergencies or under other existing exceptions, the government must obtain a warrant in order to compel a service provider to disclose the content of emails, texts, or other private material stored by the service provider on behalf of its users.”

The ECPA Amendments Act and its House counterpart, the Email Privacy Act, would work to ensure the protection of the Fourth Amendment, as it applies to digital data. These bills clarify the need for a warrant for content as it applies to electronic information stored by a service provider.

In the 113th Congress, the bill was voted out of the Senate Judiciary by a voice vote. As reported by Morning Tech, Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley is ready to get down to business.  While he may have had a few qualms with the bill last Congress, he said “It’s going to be a good thing to spend some time on things that are bipartisan. That makes a difference, and it sets a tone for getting more controversial things done later on.”

Even with over 200 co-sponsors on the Email Privacy Act, the House Judiciary committee declined to consider the bill.

Last week, Digital Liberty and Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter, urging Congressmen to join as Original Co-Sponsors on the 114th’s Email Privacy Act, spearheaded by Congressmen Kevin Yoder and Jared Polis .

Read Coalition letter to the Senate

Read Coalition Letter to the House

Read the ATR DigLib letter here