E-mail Privacy Act Could End Warrantless Seizure of E-mails

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WASHINGTON (VR)— The E-mail Privacy Act from Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) passed an important milestone Tuesday by accumulating its 218th House co-sponsor, which suggests Americans’ e-mail communications may soon be off limits to seizure from law enforcement agencies (including the SEC and the IRS) unless those agencies can show “probable cause” to a court and secure a warrant for seizure.

For insights into the context and significance of the E-mail Privacy Act, Radio VR’s David Kerans spoke with John M. Simpson from Consumer Watchdog, where he is the director of the organization’s Privacy Project.

Simpson feels that the E-mail Privacy Act would be a long overdue improvement on the Electronic Privacy Communications Act of 1986, which did not anticipate the explosion of electronic communications in the internet age, and allows law enforcement to access anyone’s e-mails over the past 180 days without obtaining any court warrant.

Given the breadth of support for the E-mail Privacy Act, Simpson expects it will pass into law fairly soon.

Simpson also outlined the work of Consumer Wathdog’s Privacy Project, which is currently pressing for transparency and accountability as regards “data brokers” (who collect and package electronic data about individuals for resale to commercial clients or anyone else prepared to pay for it.


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