Police officers should obtain a warrant before searching emails, text messages, and other private digital content, White House advisers said Thursday.
The officials urged Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — a 1986 law that allows police to read emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old without a warrant.
Privacy advocates have been lobbying the White House for months to come out in favor of updating the law. The Justice Department has previously expressed support for upgrading the law’s privacy protections, but the Securities and Exchange Commission has argued that new legislation should include a carve-out for civil investigations.
The White House officials announced their support for the update as part of a report on data privacy. In a blog post, John Podesta, a senior adviser who led the privacy review, said Congress should amend ECPA to “ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that afforded in the physical world — including by removing archaic distinctions between email left unread or over a certain age.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, is championing ECPA reform legislation, but his bill has yet to reach the Senate floor. Controversy over National Security Agency spying has largely overshadowed the issue in the past year.
“It is clear that momentum is on the side of reform, and now it is time for the Congress to respond,” Leahy said in a statement.
Privacy groups applauded the White House for backing the legislative push.
“Everyone who cares about their privacy should be glad that the president’s review group recommends updating ECPA to protect Americans’ communications,” said Christopher Calabrese, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “By recognizing that online and offline communications should be treated the same, the report lays the groundwork for keeping everyone’s emails, texts, and photos private and secure.”
Nuala O’Connor, the president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, urged Congress to “act now to pass ECPA reform legislation without any loopholes.”
- 1 Why Every Member of Congress Gets a Monthly Porn Delivery
- 2 Obama’s Energy Secretary Hopes to Aid Trump’s “Forgotten” Man
- 3 HOTLINE EXTRA: Bartos Jumps Into Race for Casey’s Seat
- 4 Smart Ideas: John Oliver and Samantha Bee’s Gifts to Trump
- 5 Carousel: Pentagon, State Dept. Vets Head to Private Sector
What We're Following See More »
President Trump today said he'll be releasing his tax reformpacakge next week around the 100-day mark of his presidency. He promised that "businesses and individuals will receive a 'massive tax cut ... bigger I believe than any tax cut ever."
Despite President Trump's announcement that his tax reform proposal would be released this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney now says it will be ready in June. This week's announcement will be limited to "specific governing principles."
Vice President Mike Pence has cut his Asia trip short "to race back to Washington, where the Trump administration faces a critical week on tax reform and a funding plan to keep the government running, an aide said on Sunday." Pence will return to Washington on Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday. Trump has a busy week ahead, as he plans to roll out a tax reform on framework, sign a number of executive orders, and works to keep the government open past Friday.