Mark J. Fitzgibbons writes:
Current law allows the government to gain warrantless access to your emails that have been stored more than 180 days. That’s bad — and even worse, the legislation now being pushed to plug this loophole has its own major loophole.
H.R. 699, “The Email Privacy Act,” is being hailed by its sponsors in Congress and by privacy advocates as ensuring that government may access our emails only after “obtain[ing] a warrant from a judge by showing probable cause to believe a crime is being committed.”
Reading the bill — perhaps a lost art on Capitol Hill — shows that it expressly exempts “the authority of a governmental entity to use an administrative subpoena authorized under a Federal or State statute” to obtain emails directly from individuals and businesses, meaning government bureaucrats may continue to bypass the judicial process — and the Fourth Amendment — to obtain emails without probable cause of a crime, just not from third-party Internet service providers.
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