Senate committee passes email privacy legislation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Over objections from law enforcement officials, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation Thursday that would require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge before they can review a person's emails or other electronic communications.
The bill makes it slightly more difficult for the government to access the content of a consumer's emails and private files from Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other Internet providers. Under the current law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a warrant is needed only for emails less than 6 months old.
The committee chairman and the bill's sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said digital files on a computer should have the same safeguards as paper files stored in a home. Americans "face even greater threats to their digital privacy, as we witness the explosion of new technologies and the expansion of the government's surveillance powers," Leahy said during the committee's vote on the legislation. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill early next year. A House committee hasn't yet voted on a similar bill.
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