Its about time Congress started getting serious about digital privacy
Leahy’s bill would not affect the NSA programs, but it would curb the ability of local and federal law enforcement officials to access private online messages.
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, police only need a subpoena, issued without a judge’s approval, to force Internet companies to turn over emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old.
When lawmakers passed ECPA more than 25 years ago, they failed to anticipate that email providers would offer massive online storage. They assumed that if a person hadn’t downloaded and deleted an email within six months, it could be considered abandoned and wouldn’t require strict privacy protections.
Leahy and privacy advocates argue that ECPA is woefully out of date and that police should need a warrant, based on probable cause and approved by a judge, to read a person’s emails.