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Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

Representing the 1st District of Washington

Editorial: U.S. Senate should join House in protecting email privacy

Feb 9, 2017
In The News

As far as law enforcement and the federal law regarding electronic communications are concerned, any of your emails older than 180 days have been “abandoned” and don’t carry an expectation of privacy; they’re no different than the trash you leave at the curb and can be searched without a warrant.

That standard, allowing law enforcement agencies to obtain old emails without a warrant, is a holdover from the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, passed in 1986, years before most of us heard “You’ve got mail,” when we went to our computers. The act has gone untouched since it was passed, as has the loophole that denies the privacy protections and warrant requirements that apply to hardcopy documents.

That would change under the Email Privacy Act, which on Monday passed for a second time in two years in the U.S. House by unanimous voice vote.

Among the prime supporters of the act was 1st District Rep. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Washington, who worked on mobile communication issues when she was at Microsoft; as she did a year ago, DelBene supported the act introduced by Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas.

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