Reps. Graves, Yoder Introduce Email Privacy Act
May 8, 2013 -
U.S. Reps. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) and Kevin Yoder (R-KS-03) have introduced H.R. 1852, the Email Privacy Act, which would protect consumer privacy interests by updating the privacy protections for electronic communication information that third-party service providers store. The legislation ensures that the Fourth Amendment protections to privacy that Americans receive from regular mail and other paper documents are extended to electronic correspondence and other content stored in “the cloud.” Technology has changed dramatically since 1986, the last time Congress dealt with email privacy laws.
“Government agencies should never be able to read our private emails without a warrant,” said Rep. Graves. “It is ridiculous for the IRS or any other federal agency to believe it is above our fundamental right to privacy, but it’s important that we update the law to keep up with modern communication and protect against government intrusion.”
“Today, we affirm what most Americans already assume, that Americans’ privacy should be protected from government intrusion. Our bill has a simple aim – all private communications stored online should have the same Fourth Amendment privacy protections under the Constitution as any other letters and documents Americans keep in their homes,” said Rep. Yoder.
In April, Fox News reported, “the current online version of the IRS manual says that no warrant is required for emails that are stored by an Internet storage provider for more than 180 days.” The news came after the American Civil Liberties Union obtained IRS documents through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed agents were advised that they did not need a warrant to search emails and other electronic communications of private citizens.
The Graves-Yoder Email Privacy Act is the companion to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) Amendments Act (S. 607) introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT).