Senate Judiciary To Decide H.R. 2471

Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Bill H.R. 2471. It will soon reach the Senate floor, and then the House. If it is ultimately enacted, this new amendment to 18 USC § 2710 would require law enforcement and government agents to first obtain a warrant before they would be permitted to view people’s online communications. (Such as Google emails, chats, Twitter and Facebook messages, etc)

Many advocates for online and electronic privacy consider this bill a step in the right direction, as right now, law enforcement agencies may not necessarily require a warrant in order to read a person’s electronic communications. As it currently stands, police may be entitled to view an email or message that is older than 180 days old. This is a result of the policies enacted in the 1980s, when most electronic data storage devices could not save messages for long periods of time. In addition, law enforcement may also be required to present evidence that reading the message or the email would be beneficial to an ongoing criminal investigation. H.R. 2471 would seek to eliminate these outdated exceptions and update the privacy protections in the modern world.

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