Congress cuts amendment banning warrantless email snooping

By on December 26, 2012, 6:00 PM

Updating the Video Privacy Protection Act, the US Congress passed a new bill on Christmas Eve that will let you automatically share your Netflix viewing history on your Facebook profile. Before approving the document, however, the US Senate cut a separate amendment to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act that would have required federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant before monitoring email.

The email-related provision was attached the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act (not a typo, unfortunately) and was approved last month by the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to AllGov. Along with protecting US citizens from warrantless email monitoring, the amendment is said to have covered other data stored remotely. It's unclear why the privacy protections were removed at the last minute.

Currently, the federal government can access any email or data stored on a third-party server for longer than 180 days, as long as it can demonstrate that it has "reasonable grounds to believe" the data would be helpful in an investigation. Considering those loose requirements and how close the nixed amendment came to landing on President Obama's desk, many privacy advocates are ticked about the move.

"Changes to electronic privacy cannot happen piecemeal," Chris Calabrese of the American Civil Liberties Union said. "If we are to achieve true reform -- which means getting full protection for Americans' inboxes and private communication -- we cannot give priority to special interests." "If Netflix is going to get an update to the privacy law, we think the American people should get an update to the privacy law."

Although Senator Patrick Leahy is surely unhappy about his email provision being dropped, a Democratic aide speaking to BuzzFeed reports that Leahy has "always known that it would need to be a multi-year effort, but that getting a vote in November on his email privacy protections would keep the momentum going. It was known by everyone that it would not pass in the lame-duck session, especially in the House."




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3 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Currently, the federal government can access any email or data stored on a third-party server for longer than 180 days, as long as it can demonstrate that it has "reasonable grounds to believe" the data would be helpful in an investigation.
I have reasonable grounds to believe that congress has been lying to its people. Would someone be so kind as to share all of congress's emails within the last 180 days?

Johnny Utah said:

Clifford for President.

This is just wrong. The government should ALWAYS need a warrant to get this type of information, PERIOD.

tonylukac said:

Hey Cliff. They sure aren't as quick to get the fiscal cliff resolved.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Currently, the federal government can access any email or data stored on a third-party server for longer than 180 days, as long as it can demonstrate that it has "reasonable grounds to believe" the data would be helpful in an investigation.
I have reasonable grounds to believe that congress has been lying to its people. Would someone be so kind as to share all of congress's emails within the last 180 days?

Send an email to anonymous :]

acr123 said:

I could be wrong, but I believe the "warrant" can be signed by a federal prosecutor and does not need a judge's signature.

Guest said:

The U.S. government should be based on a systems of Check and Balances and not absolute power. It seems the Patriot Act and other acts are slowly erroding the C&B. We as a people need to make sure we restore these things.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

The overall approval rating of Congress is about 20%. A term in the House of Representatives is 2 years.

At the next election, about 80+% of its members will be re-elected.

As near as I can figure, you've brought most of this s*** on yourselves.

Either quit whining, or vote each and every one of them out of office at every opportunity. The longer you leave a tick on a dog's a**, the more blood it will suck! The exact same rule applies to the majority of individuals in "public service"!

Tygerstrike said:

Well to be fair, not everyone is going to admit to a diabolical plan or some other neffarius scheme using email. So if the most thier going to get is a grandmas cookie recipe or the intimate details of an individuals fling, it seems pretty harmless. It does state that they can request data or emails stored on a third party server. There is the loophole. Just keep everything you want to keep stored on a flash drive. Erase your emails, and they really have no leverage. It seems as if they really only want to catch the stupid criminals who have less brain cells then the avaerage cockaroach.

inventix1136 said:

The overall approval rating of Congress is about 20%. A term in the House of Representatives is 2 years.

At the next election, about 80+% of its members will be re-elected.

As near as I can figure, you've brought most of this s*** on yourselves.

Either quit whining, or vote each and every one of them out of office at every opportunity. The longer you leave a tick on a dog's a**, the more blood it will suck! The exact same rule applies to the majority of individuals in "public service"!

If there actually was a CHOICE of candidates then your argument would be accurate, but unfortunately the candidates are provided to us by the puppet masters behind the curtain who are the ones calling the shots. Let's not forget that former communist East Germany was called German DEMOCRATIC republic and they did have elections where the communist party provided the candidates -- same with our elections, we are given candidates that can be controlled and it has been DECADES since they actually represented the people...

Guest said:

Remember, "the people" voted in G.B. Stupid is as stupid does. I'll take a benevolent dictatorship over a moronic democracy any day, any day, any day.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The longer you leave a tick on a dog's a**, the more blood it will suck!
You make it sound as if there is a good tick right around the corner that would not suck blood. You know a good tick would be an ideal candidate. So where are all the good ticks?

It's my honest belief that the only way to remove the corruption is through a civil war. Those behind the corruption will not give up their position otherwise. The only question is how long society will continue in the name of peace and allow corruption to continue.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

It's my honest belief that the only way to remove the corruption is through a civil war. Those behind the corruption will not give up their position otherwise. The only question is how long society will continue in the name of peace and allow corruption to continue.
Ooooo, shame on you Clifford! Your Email is gonna get looked at...., big time!!!

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ooooo, shame on you Clifford! Your Email is gonna get looked at...., big time!!!
I have nothing to fear from them reading what few email I do send. Even if I was to plan some form of attack, I wouldn't be so stup-id as to put it in digital form.

Guest said:

Well to be fair, not everyone is going to admit to a diabolical plan or some other neffarius scheme using email. So if the most thier going to get is a grandmas cookie recipe or the intimate details of an individuals fling, it seems pretty harmless. It does state that they can request data or emails stored on a third party server. There is the loophole. Just keep everything you want to keep stored on a flash drive. Erase your emails, and they really have no leverage. It seems as if they really only want to catch the stupid criminals who have less brain cells then the avaerage cockaroach.

Do you really think deleting mails from your inbox deletes the data on server ?

mevans336 mevans336 said:

Doesn't look to me like this is law yet. Can't President Obama still veto this?

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h6671/show

Guest said:

Guest said:

"Do you really think deleting mails from your inbox deletes the data on server ?"

Yes, most servers simply do not have the space to store emails for that long. I use a singles dating website and the website specifically states that emails are deleted after 3 weeks to keep storage space in check.

So, yes, some websites delete email messages automatically after a certain period. Some do not, but the idea situation would be allowing the end-user to control their own conditions.

Im thinking this is a good time to google for an email client that can encrypt email messages. Surely, there is one already.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Im thinking this is a good time to google for an email client that can encrypt email messages. Surely, there is one already.
You are lying to yourself if you think encryption will keep them from reading your email. So you get encryption for your email and then your service provider is ordered to decrypt your email. If I was congress, reading encrypted emails would be the first place I started reading, if I wanted to know peoples dirty little secrets. After this announcement anyone dumb enough to put their (I don't want congress to know) secrets in digital form of any kind, is asking for whatever congress decides to do with them.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

This whole sordid affair really burns my buns! I just hope and pray these jokers at the NSA don't start reading my spam.

Because the secrets for having a 12 inch penis and a perpetual erection are not something I'm ready to share with the world! No siree! If that information gets out then everybody will be doing it......

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