The Hill reports that the House Judiciary Committee will begin a series of hearings on privacy on Tuesday. The committee will examine proposals to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA,” also known as Title 18 § 2511 of the United States Code). The Hill reports:
The House Judiciary Committee will hold the first in a series of hearings on Tuesday morning to consider whether to expand privacy protections for emails and other forms of electronic communication. [...]
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, police only need a subpoena, issued without a judge’s approval, to read emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old. Privacy advocates argue the law is woefully out of date and that police should need a warrant to access emails and other private messages.
Revising the law to protect all electronic communications, regardless of how old they are, is a top goal for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said earlier this month that modernizing the privacy act to “reflect our current digital economy” will be a priority for his committee. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) have introduced legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing private online communications or mobile location data.
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