On Wednesday, April 27, the House plans to bring H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act, to a full vote. The Email Privacy Act is a huge bipartisan effort to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. The Email Privacy Act, led by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), currently has a supermajority in the House, with more than 314 cosponsors.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was created during a time without widespread use of email, social media, or Cloud computing. Very few Americans even owned computers when ECPA was written. Passage of the Email Privacy Act will bring the ECPA into the 21st century and fix its outdated privacy laws.
Updating the ECPA is necessary in a world that operates almost entirely online. Americans should be able to reasonably expect privacy for their emails and items stored in the Cloud. The Email Privacy Act would end the 180-day loophole, effectively protecting emails from warrantless search and seizure. The bill will also keep civil agencies from warrant exemption, keeping government surveillance powers under control.
The Email Privacy Act has widespread support in the House. The bill was passed unanimously in a 28-0 vote by Republican and Democrat members of the House Judiciary Committee during a markup. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) released the following statement: “We urge the full House to pass this bill soon so the Senate can do the same. The American people deserve a law that matches today’s digital age.” The bill also has a great deal of support from privacy advocates, civil libertarians, and businesses.
It is absolutely crucial that we call on the House of Representatives to pass the Email Privacy Act when it comes to a vote on April 27th. It is also vital for the Senate to pass companion legislation called ECPA Amendments Act, which already has support from nearly one-fourth of the Senate.
Now is the time to finally protect American’s privacy in this technological age.