New privacy bill would require search warrant for e-mail, cell tracking

By on September 26, 2012, 9:30 AM

Several technology companies including Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft and Twitter are backing a new privacy bill that was recently introduced in the US House of Representatives. Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren’s bill would require law enforcement officials to obtain a search warrant from a judge before snooping through someone’s e-mail or collecting location information via cell phone tracking.

Lofgren’s bill intends to amend the Electronics Communications Privacy Act of 1986. The grossly outdated legislation was put into effect in what CNET describes as the pre-Internet era of telephone modems, dial-up bulletin boards and 5.25-inch floppy drives. The law is difficult for judges to interpret in today’s high-tech society as it was written in a time before social networks and cloud computing were created.

The bill is expected to face stiff competition from the Department of Justice based on their belief that that requiring a search warrant would make police investigations more difficult to carry out. Ars points to a recent case heard by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that determined law enforcement officials were within their right to obtain location information from a man’s mobile phone without seeking a warrant.

It’ll be at least a few months before we hear a decision on the bill as it was introduced just days after the House of Representatives adjourned until after Election Day on November 6. That’s plenty of times for those on both sides of the argument to voice their concerns.

User Comments: 5

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Guest said:

This is pretty much the best idea they have come up within 6-7 years...

Guest said:

This will get **** blocked by the government. I support this new bill but it wont pass.

Jiopaba2 Jiopaba2 said:

This will get **** blocked by the government. I support this new bill but it wont pass.

Perhaps so. but... it's kind of hard to argue when Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, and Twitter are telling you to do something. The amount of money and information control they can bring to bear on this sort of thing would be mindblowing. If Google felt like making "Support this Bill! Defend your Privacy!" their search logo thing for the day, every letter or email campaign in the world would suddenly pale to insignificance before the storm of support it would unleash.

Guest said:

So there's a bill requiring a warrant. I suppose that keeps the "honest" officials out of our phones at least... Oh, well. I guess the CIA just has to start covering their tracks a little better.

Tygerstrike said:

This is a great idea!!! Now they have to legally crack your email or phone!!!! This means accountability.

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