Senate Judiciary postpones stored communications privacy overhaul
The Senate Judiciary Committee has held up sending to the Senate floor a bill that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act by requiring law enforcement to obtain a search warrant when accessing stored electronic communications more than 180 days old and stored on a third-party server.
Currently, law enforcement must only issue an administrative order stating it has "reasonable grounds to believe" that the information could be useful in order to obtain it.
During a Sept. 20 business meeting, the committee adopted by unanimous consent a proposal (.pdf) by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to amend the ECPA, but chose not to report the measure out of committee.
Leahy said his colleagues "said they want further discussion of this, so we'll do nothing further" until the next committee meeting, reports CNET.
Law enforcement organizations in particular have opposed changing the ECPA to require a warrant for 180-day-old stored electronic communications.
Leahy's measure "only represents the interests of privacy advocate groups," the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said in a Sept. 19 letter (.pdf) posted online by the Center for Democracy and Technology.
"Requiring a probable cause warrant for access to all electronic information could add additional delays to the investigation process," said the FBI Agents Association in another Sept. 19 letter (.pdf), also posted online by the CDT.
- go to the Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting webpage (webcast available)
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