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Email privacy bill passes Congress with flying colors

Engadget Engadget 28/04/2016 Mariella Moon
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Authorities might soon be required to get a search warrant if they want providers like Gmail to hand over your emails, even if they're older than 180 days. The US House of Representatives has unanimously passed the Email Privacy Act, which updates the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Under ECPA, authorities are allowed to request for old emails with only a subpoena instead of a warrant. The new bill's advocates argue that ECPA is incredibly outdated at this point in time and the subpoena loophole should be closed.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said: "In 1896, mail was sent through the US Postal Service, a search engine was called a library, tweets were the sounds made by birds in the trees and clouds were found only in the sky. In 1986, computer storage was finite and expensive."

The Hill notes, however, that authorities can still subpoena individuals relevant to their investigation. Users also aren't notified if the government's looking into their old emails, according to the EFF. Plus, the government still isn't required to get a warrant when asking for people's geolocation data. The good news is that tech service providers can choose to let you know if you're the subject of an investigation.

The Hill, EFF, Reuters

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