Email Snooping With No Warrant Authorized By Senate

On Christmas Eve the United States Congress passed a bill that would update the Video Privacy Protection Act that would make it legal to automatically share your Netflix viewing history on your Facebook profile. Previously, privacy laws did not allow such a practice although many users likely will have no problem with such information being shared in the first place. However, at the same time the Democrat-controlled Senate also cut a separate amendment that would have required Federal law enforcement like the FBI to obtain a warrant before monitoring the email of its own citizens.

Senator Patrick Leahy wrote the amendment with the intention to change the 1986 Electonric Communications Privacy Act. According to AllGov, the current laws allow Big Brother to intrude on our privacy pretty much at will:

“Currently, the government can collect emails and other cloud data without a warrant as long as the content has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more. Federal agents need only demonstrate that they have ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ the information would be useful in an investigation.”

An aide to Senator Patrick Leahy spoke to BuzzFeed and said that they plan on pressing on despite this setback:

“[We have] always known that it would need to be a multi-year effort, but that getting a vote in November on his email privacy protections would keep the momentum going. It was known by everyone that it would not pass in the lame-duck session, especially in the House.”

According to Tech Spot, Chris Calabrese of the American Civil Liberties Union says more effort needs to be made by Congress to make electronic privacy laws a higher priority:

“Changes to electronic privacy cannot happen piecemeal. If we are to achieve true reform — which means getting full protection for Americans’ inboxes and private communication — we cannot give priority to special interests. If Netflix is going to get an update to the privacy law, we think the American people should get an update to the privacy law.”

Do you think that the Federal government law enforcement should be allowed to monitor emails and any other types of data without first receiving a warrant?

[Image via International Herald Tribune]