In a welcome development, its being reported that Congress will introduce new email privacy protections later today. According to Recode, the new legislation will be called the Electronic Communications Privacy Modernization Act and the act will require law enforcement to obtain a warrant when trying to obtain emails older than 180 days.
Under current law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which was enacted 1986 law enforcement does not need a warrant to obtain emails older than 180 days old. When ECPA was passed, lawmakers did not envision people keeping their emails more than 180 days so requiring a warrant for all emails was not thought necessary.
This new act would also require a warrant, whenever a suspect’s location history information is also requested. In addition, it would also require the government to notify suspects whenever their data is searched and it seeks to stop law enforcement from preventing technology companies from being able to inform their customers when their data is being searched by the government.
There have been multiple efforts over the years to update ECPA and all of them have failed due to push back from the law enforcement community. My hope is that the proper balance between privacy and security can be reached so that a compromise bill can be enacted that updates our digital privacy to protect all of the data we create in the Digital Age.