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DelBene Lauds House Passage of Email Privacy Act

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today celebrated House passage of the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387). This legislation would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the main statute governing law enforcement access to digital records and content, such as email. The bill would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to access emails. Current law allows law enforcement to obtain emails from third party providers without a warrant if they are older than 180 days.

“Updating our laws to reflect the way the world works in the 21st century has been one of my top priorities in Congress. When current law affords more protections for a letter in a filing cabinet than an email on a server, it’s clear our policies are woefully outdated,” DelBene said. “I’ve supported a number of different proposals to reform our electronic privacy laws and will continue to push for those, but today’s passage of the Email Privacy Act is a great step forward for Americans’ civil liberties. Now it’s up to the Senate to act and ensure Americans are guaranteed the privacy protections most think they already have.”

DelBene joined Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO) in reintroducing the Email Privacy Act. Last year, the bill passed the House in a 419-0 vote but the Senate failed to act. A broad range of civil liberties and technology industry stakeholders, including the ACLU, Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, have endorsed the legislation.

The bill would:

  • Eliminate the arbitrary “180-day rule” for emails older than 180 days
  • Require a warrant for obtaining content from providers
  • Allow providers to notify customers when government has requested their data
  • Allow government to seek a judge-ordered delay of notification in special circumstances

DelBene has cosponsored several bills, including the Email Privacy Act, to update ECPA to protect Americans’ privacy. 

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