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On behalf of FreedomWorks’ activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and urge him or her to cosponsor the Email Privacy Act, H.R. 387, if they have not already done so. Introduced by Rep. Kevin Yoder, the Email Privacy Act brings the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 into the 21st Century.
Under current law, federal agencies can obtain emails and other forms of electronic communication without a warrant from a service provider after 180 days, which violates the rights to privacy and due process protected by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. The Department of Justice has interpreted that any opened email is subject to the 180-day rule.
The Email Privacy Act upgrades ECPA to protect the privacy of Americans by requiring that federal officials seeking access to emails and other forms of electronic communication to acquire a warrant. The bill would also codify and apply nationwide the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ June 2010 ruling in United States v. Warshak, in which the court determined that emails are subject to Fourth Amendment protections, meaning that law enforcement is required to obtain a warrant based on probable cause to search them.
In the 114th Congress, the Email Privacy Act had more than 300 cosponsors and, in April 2016, unanimously passed the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, the bill was stalled in the Senate, as some Members unwisely sought to weaken its common sense protections. Any attempt to weaken the version of the Email Privacy Act in the 115th Congress should be met with resistance by the House.
The Email Privacy Act is a crucial legislative effort years in the making. It enhances the privacy of Americans by getting the government out of their inboxes. I hope that you will contact your representative and ask him or her to support the Email Privacy Act.
Adam Brandon, President and CEO, FreedomWorks