The bill designed to protect users’ privacy has passed a US Senate Committee. This proposed bill is designed to close a loophole that was left in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
The loophole allowed government officials to view email messages that are over 180 days old. The legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, Chris Calabrese, feels that it is a step in the right direction to protect private electronic content. The attorney for Electronic Frontier Foundation, Lee Tien, says it shows that users’ rights don’t expire after six months.
Outdated laws regarding privacy not only hurt users but businesses, too. Companies are reluctant to use cloud services because of this.
Publicity of the Petraeus Case
The publicity surrounding CIA director David Petraeus may have a lot to do with the bill moving through the committee. He resigned after a search of his emails made public his affair with his biographer. The emails were read without a search warrant.
The bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee was championed by Senator Patrick J. Leahy from Vermont. It updates current law that was put in place before Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. This is the main support of email networks today, along with Facebook and Twitter. The bill requires police to get a search warrant before they can view any private email messages, not matter how old they are.
While the bill has many supporters, there are those who aren’t backing it. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa feels that more debate is needed before it is accepted. He wants to see a balance between security and privacy. The difference between current legislation and the proposed bill is that currently police only need a judge to sign a subpoena to allow them to view emails past the 180 days. The current bill would require more intensive effort.