Bill would require warrant for gov't to access your email

A new bill proposed Tuesday calls for a major overhaul to a digital privacy law that is now 25 years old. It would allow for more restricted access by requiring government officials receive a probable cause warrant before they can gain access to email and other information stored in the cloud.

The bill would be an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), first enacted in 1986 before sophisticated email or Internet. As it stands, the ECPA allows for the government to acquire someone's emails or any other content as long as it's been stored on a third party server for more than 180 days, according to Wired, and as long as the government showed reasonable grounds to believe the information could further an investigation.

Democrat Senator of Vermont Patrick Leahy, who proposed the bill, said in a statement that the ECPA "is significantly outdated and out-paced by rapid changes in technology and the changing mission of our law enforcement agencies after September 11. Updating this law to reflect the realities of our time is essential to ensuring that our federal privacy laws keep pace with new technologies and the new threats to our security."

The bill also refers to a warrant requirement to access smartphone location data — which should be particularly of note to some as word of how iPhone and Android devices have been storing that data without consumer consent has made headlines recently. The bill has "well-balanced exceptions" about having to receive a warrant if there's an immediate threat to safety, but overall "the bill also requires a search warrant in order to obtain real-time location" data.

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7 Comments

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Nashy said,
Where's all the regular Neowin bashers who usually whinge about rights being taken away etc.?
Huh? Do you not complain when your rights get taken away? From the tone of your post, I gather that you don't and you ultimately posted a moronic comment. What is even more ridiculous is the fact that you and people like you think/feel/assume that it's a bad thing to complain/fight for your own rights. Most of you don't even realize that these things are important.

Nevertheless, this is a miniscule step in the right direction; probably to shut the door on the recent cry over privacy on Smartphones. I would be happier if the stupid Patriot Act was removed. It was extended till February, 2012.

Edited by Jebadiah, May 18 2011, 11:41am :

Nashy said,
Where's all the regular Neowin bashers who usually whinge about rights being taken away etc.?

Yeah, re-read the post - this isn't about rights being taken away, it's about rights being given after a quarter-century of unwarranted digital surveillance. It means that in order for the authorities to spy on someone's activity, they have to have some proof of wrongdoing already: a probable cause. That's pretty good in light of the Patriot Act extension. And if this bill passes, those who feel it's a good idea to give us our privacy will most likely use it as a precedent to further legislate our privacy and freedom to be ourselves without fear of undue surveillance.

Stop poking the location db files pig...
We all know it's locally stored.

They'll want to access the cellular network providers data...
That's the only rock solid solution to gain the information no matter which device is used and where and how often it is synchronized to which machine...

Other than that: Did the government not need a warrant so far? o.O

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,
Did the government not need a warrant so far? o.O

Nope and it got worse after 9-11.

I can have this post of mine here flagged by a government system just by mentioning these keywords: Bomb and Nuclear. Now somewhere in (most likely) the NSA, this post is being scanned and filed away.

If I were to add certain names and locations, I would most likely get a knock on the door or be followed within 24 hours.

Sounds like tin-foil hat stuff, but sadly it's true. Even if this thing gets passed, it's not like they'll actually go by what it says. If they want e-mail access, they'll get access no matter what.

NightmarE D said,

Nope and it got worse after 9-11.

I can have this post of mine here flagged by a government system just by mentioning these keywords: Bomb and Nuclear. Now somewhere in (most likely) the NSA, this post is being scanned and filed away.

If I were to add certain names and locations, I would most likely get a knock on the door or be followed within 24 hours.

Sounds like tin-foil hat stuff, but sadly it's true. Even if this thing gets passed, it's not like they'll actually go by what it says. If they want e-mail access, they'll get access no matter what.

Especially if you live in a country with a lot of oil or other natural resources, so they can invade it. If you live in U.S. then you have escaped =)

P.s. Knock... Knock... Who is it? SEAL forces. "Door opening..." - Headshot.

NightmarE D said,

Nope and it got worse after 9-11.

I can have this post of mine here flagged by a government system just by mentioning these keywords: Bomb and Nuclear. Now somewhere in (most likely) the NSA, this post is being scanned and filed away.

If I were to add certain names and locations, I would most likely get a knock on the door or be followed within 24 hours.

Sounds like tin-foil hat stuff, but sadly it's true. Even if this thing gets passed, it's not like they'll actually go by what it says. If they want e-mail access, they'll get access no matter what.


The rest I knew, but straight opening your email without notice seems like...
Okay, no need to break it down...

Mhh... You know what? This auto-logging and monitoring of your person could be abused to get police to cover your <where the sun doesn't shine> in case you know that you might be followed by a stalker or so and have no proof, which is what they want...

HAHA... Just had to think of that when you reminded me of the scanning system

GS:mac