When I heard that Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy had written a bill that would make a court-approved warrant mandatory to obtain and view private emails from any time frame, I was pleased. We definitely need to replace the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. That law was originally written in 1986, before electronic archiving and “cloud computing” even existed! That act gives police agencies the right to force an Internet company to hand over ANY emails they feel are relevant to a case, without a judge’s order.
But now I’m hearing from tech website CNet that Leahy has “tweaked” his bill, which would now allow more than 20 agencies – including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission – to access Americans’ emails, Google Doc files, Facebook wallposts and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. The Judiciary Committee is saying those accusations are false. Who’s telling the truth here? Why can’t we get a straight answer about this?
So, will this new bill tie the hands of government agencies that want to look at personal emails, or does it open the door wide for them? Apparently the matter is in discussion. But I think we can all agree that the issue is an important one. Government already has its eyes all over our personal lives. Do we really want our personal emails to be part of that whole mix?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Should government agencies have easy access to your personal emails if they feel those emails are relevant to a case? Or should they have to first go before a judge and prove their case before gaining that access? Please chime in with your opinions.
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