The Email Privacy Act

  • By: Staff Editor
  • Date: March 01, 2017
  • Source:
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The Email Privacy Act

Designed to reform and update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the Email Privacy Act has been hailed as a much needed directive to restructure the ECPA regulations that came into being in 1986, well before the existence of the World Wide Web. Add to that the melee of the current presidential reforms, the passing of the Email Privacy Act has now become an urgent requisite than a reform.

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The loophole to be rectified

Despite its outdated loophole, which allows access to emails of US citizens without a warrant, the ECPA has held its ground for three decades, while Congress, in its second attempt in two years, is now looking to reform these outdated elements of the ECPA.

The law as it stands now

On Monday, the House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act unanimously - a bill that would reform the ECPA if it became a law. Specifically, the new law would require government agencies to acquire a warrant before getting a hold of a suspect’s online communications that are more than 180 days old.

Under the Act’s existing reasoning, communications older than 180 days are considered abandoned, and are not covered under the privacy umbrella of other electronic data.

The added flurry around passing the law

In an effort to pass the reform last year, the House of Representatives voted unanimously then as well – only to have Senator Jeff Sessions and Senator John Cornyn include divisive, surveillance-friendly revisions to the bill that caused its defeat. With Sessions sworn in as the US Attorney General, leading the Justice Department, privacy advocates are now strongly reinstating the importance of the ECPA reform.

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