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Senate Judiciary passes out bill with email warrant restrictions

In the end, CNET got it wrong.

Sen. Patrick Leahy's bill to rework privacy protections for email passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. His bill requires federal law enforcement to get warrants to read our emails. The exception involving possible national security threats (via the Patriot Act) will still exist.

It won't be up for a final vote until possibly a year from now.

CNET alleged that Leahy was going to weaken email privacy and try to sneak his bill out of committee. A Leahy staffer denied CNET's claim. Currently, law enforcement don't need a warrant to gain access to our email. Leahy's bill actually strengthens our privacy rights.

A Senate committee on Thursday unanimously backed sweeping digital privacy protections requiring the government, for the first time, to get a probable-cause warrant to obtain e-mail and other content stored in the cloud.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, amends the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The amendment would nullify a provision that allows the government to acquire a suspect's e-mail or other stored content from an internet service provider without showing probable cause that a crime was committed.

The development comes as e-mail privacy is again in the spotlight after FBI investigators uncovered an affair between then-CIA chief David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell after gaining access to e-mail accounts used by Broadwell.

Currently, the government can obtain e-mail without a warrant as long as the content has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more, and only needs to show, often via an administrative subpoena, that it has "reasonable grounds to believe" the information would be useful in an investigation.

(Wired)

Sorry I ever doubted you. I'm just a little paranoid after FISA and SOPA/PIPA.

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