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Senate Judiciary Committee Passes E-mail Privacy Update
1986 Law Finally Getting Revamped for Modern Age
by Karl Bode 01:27PM Friday Nov 30 2012
The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday approved an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 that would strengthen privacy protection for e-mail, a move that's in stark contrast to the typical aggressive domestic surveillance expansion efforts by the United States government. According to the New York Times, the new bill was sponsored by Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, and would require that law enforcement officials show probably cause and obtain a warrant before gaining access to individual subscriber e-mail accounts.

The Justice Department and intelligence agencies have resisted the bill, which they insist will make their job harder. Most analysts -- and even many in law enforcement don't believe that's an accurate claim, given the changes are not all that dramatic:
quote:
"I don't see anything (in the Senate bill) that's going to seriously concern law enforcement in terms of our ability to request warrants and to get the contents of the material that we need," said Joseph Cassilly, the state's attorney in Harford County, Md., and a former president of the National District Attorneys Association. "Since you've already got to get warrants for the stuff that's less than 180 days, it's obviously not an insurmountable standard."
You'll recall that there was a bit of a scuff up last week after Leahy rewrote the bill to allow 22 government agencies to snoop e-mail and online activity without a warrant. Leahy however backed off the rewrite after the press noticed Leahy's rewrite defeated the entire point of trying to make e-mail privacy improvements. The update is expected to see significant opposition from Republicans next year, though it does have the support of many content operators like Microsoft and Google, who don't want customers going elsewhere for cloud storage out of privacy worries.

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axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC
Reviews:
·Comcast

Glad to hear it's not the rewritten bill

C-SPAN was talking about this yesterday, I was worried that the bad version actually passed. Glad to hear it's the "good" version. Other matters are higher priority for the Congress at the moment, but hopefully decreasing the powers of government over individuals is something both parties can agree on.

woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA

Re: Glad to hear it's not the rewritten bill

your right to privacy should be of highest concern. When all the attention is directed to the "cliff" is when the crap creeps in........
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BlooMe
InfinityDev

join:2005-06-30
USA

1 recommendation

Can't take credit for this but:

I was told recently that something like this would be coming, and I doubted it having read about Leahy's previous bill.

Why did this person tell me this was coming? Three words: General David Petraeus.

How many things are in emails that those Congressmen do NOT want getting easily unearthed by a reporter that sees something else and asks an FBI contact "Hey, what's going on with Senator X and Person Y?" More than a few, hm?
PDXPLT

join:2003-12-04
Banks, OR

1 recommendation

I have zero expectation of privacy when sending an email...

...and anyone who does, doesn't understand how email works. You compose a text message, and then send it, in the clear, where it bounces around the 'net from server to server, owned by unknown parties, an unkonwn number of hops, before finally (hopefully) reaching its destination? It's crazier to expect that form of communication to remain private than it is to expect a postal postcard to remain private, and no one expects a snailmail post card to remain confidential. But at least a post card remains in the custody of one entity (the USPS), that's answerable to the public, until it reaches its destination.

yaplej
Premium
join:2001-02-10
White City, OR

Re: I have zero expectation of privacy when sending an email...

Email does not bounce around randomly until it finds the correct destination. The sending email server connects directly to the receiving server and if more admins were security conscious it would offer STARTTLS and the transmission of the email message would be encrypted.

Sending email can be secure and even Gmail will encrypt an email provided the destination server supports it. Last I checked hotmail and yahoo did not support STARTTLS.
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old_wiz_60

join:2005-06-03
Bedford, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

even if they pass it..

the spooks will ignore it. You should have zero expectation of privacy in e-mail unless you encrypt it.

The federal spooks will just go ahead and quietly continue to read e-mail whenever they feel like it. Ignoring any law that gets in their way is now a trademark for all of the federal spooks - FBI/CIA/NSA etc. The spooks firmly believe they are above any law and cannot be prosecuted for breaking the laws.

twaddle

@107.38.183.x

Re: even if they pass it..

Bingo the laws will be for the masses. The various terrorist organizations, CIA, NSA, FBI wi continue what they do, violate American Constitutional protections.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
said by old_wiz_60:

the spooks will ignore it. You should have zero expectation of privacy in e-mail unless you encrypt it.

The federal spooks will just go ahead and quietly continue to read e-mail whenever they feel like it. Ignoring any law that gets in their way is now a trademark for all of the federal spooks - FBI/CIA/NSA etc. The spooks firmly believe they are above any law and cannot be prosecuted for breaking the laws.

It won't pass.
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