ECPA

Today in Liberty: Email privacy reform bill hits the magic number, Senate Conservatives Funds goes on the air for Chris McDaniel

“Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?” — Thomas Sowell

— Email Privacy Act hits majority support: We mentioned in Tuesday’s Today in Liberty that the Email Privacy Act was very close to 218 cosponsors, a majority of the House of Representatives. Well, it happened. “The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) gained its 218th cosponsor late on Tuesday, giving the sponsors hope that the bill could move this year,” The Hill reports. “The sponsors have been talking with House leadership and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) about moving the bill forward, according to Yoder.” The Email Privacy Act would close a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act that allows law enforcement agencies to access emails and other electronic communications older than 180 days without a warrant.

Today in Liberty: Labrador says coronating McCarthy sends the “wrong response,” Army begins Bowe Bergdahl investigation

“The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.” — H. L. Mencken

Today in Liberty: Obamacare’s missing Millennials, data review urges privacy law reform

“The strongest continuous thread in America’s political tradition is skepticism about government.” — George Will

— Just 28 percent of Obamacare enrollees are Millennials: The Obama administration finished first Obamacare open enrollment period far short of its target for 18 to 34-year-olds. The administration estimated that it needed between 38 to 40 percent of enrollments to be from Millennials for the risk pools to be sustainable. It got 28 percent. “The administration is still touting 8 million sign-ups—technically 8.019 million—when the official open enrollment period of October 2013 through March 2014 is combined with stragglers who came in during the special enrollment period through April 19,” Peter Suderman explains, based on the latest figures. “It’s still the case that just 28 percent of those sign-ups were between the ages of 18 and 34, far short of the administration’s target of 39 percent. State-by-state variation remains significant, with some states seeing robust sign-up activity and others posting relatively weak numbers.”

Coalition Urges White House to Reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Central to the NSA spying debate is the discussion revolving around the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

Currently, the statute doesn’t give Americans the right to protection of any private communications or documents stored in the cloud. The ECPA passed as an amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act and it does not protect emails, photos or even text messages from government’s access through the requirement of a search warrant approved by a judge.

The amendment passed in 1986 when current technology was just taking its first steps.

Multiple organizations have come together to persuade the White House to reform the outdated legislation designed to prevent government outreach. The coalition — which includes the R Street Institute, American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and FreedomWorks — wrote a letter to highlight the Obama administration’s lack of dedication to this matter.

According to the group, the Securities and Exchange Commission is behind the administration’s unresponsiveness.

Many efforts have been put forward to ensure that the administration addresses this issue such as the Email Privacy Act, a bill that is co-sponsored by 205 members of the House and that was introduced by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO).

The bill is currently under congressional review. If the proposed legislation passes, electronic communication information stored in the cloud by third-party service providers should be protected from government access without a warrant.

FBI Whistleblower Sees “Great Start” to Ending Domestic Surveillance

Nick Hankoff is a grassroots coordinator at the Tenth Amendment Center and currently serves as chair at the Los Angeles County Republican Liberty Caucus. A former development associate for Antiwar.com, Nick has been covering the nullification movement that has been sweeping the country after Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the NSA spying programs surfaced. In this guest post, Nick Hankoff outlines what many have assumed to be the best and most effective way to fight the federal government on issues such as the government mass surveillance tactics: nullification.

As the one-year anniversary of Edward Snowden’s liberation of NSA documents fast approaches, no one may refute the success of his stated goal of spurring public debate. “I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself,” Snowden said.

The headlines went out, Sunday morning interviews aired and re-played, yet the story isn’t going away as Glenn Greenwald still claims the overwhelming majority of leaks are yet to be published. The debate is ongoing, but to what end does it serve the public if real reform doesn’t result?

Email privacy measure gaining support in the House

Though the ongoing controversy and revelations about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs have slowed any legislative action to reform loopholes in outdated electronic communications laws, The Hill reports that the Email Privacy Act is picking up steam in the House of Representatives:

The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has 181 co-sponsors in the House, and the authors are “still pushing to get more,” according to a Yoder spokesman.

“There’s a lot of growing support for that bill,” said Mark Stanley of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “A lot of members of Congress see this as a common sense thing.”

More than 40 lawmakers have signed onto the bill since November, pushing the total close to the magic number of 218, which would represent a majority of the House.
[…]
Passage of legislation to limit warrantless email searches appeared to be a done deal last year until revelations about National Security Agency surveillance rocked the debate.

The focus on the activities of the NSA shifted Congress’s focus from law enforcement access to national security, shunting the email issue aside.

It turns out people don’t like being spied on after all

See Video

Did you know that the federal government can get access to your emails because of a loophole in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). The loophole means that after 180 days, your emails lose protected status and can be accessed by third-party providers without a warrant.

This video, produced by End180Days.org, offers a humorous and informative take on the very serious issue of electronic privacy. Three measures that would close the loophole have been introduced in Congress. United Liberty has covered two of them, ECPA Amendments Act (Leahy-Lee) and the Email Privacy Act (Polis-Yoder-Graves).

Email privacy reform stalled in Senate

email

Legislation that would require federal law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant before accessing Americans’ emails has been stalled in the Senate due to an anonymous hold by an unnamed Republican:

An anonymous Republican senator has delayed a vote on legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other online messages.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) pushed for a vote on the bill before Congress left for its August recess. He secured unanimous support from Democrats, but at least one Republican objected to the bill, according to a Democratic Senate aide.

Leahy had hoped to fast-track the bill to passage with unanimous support, but the opposition means a vote will be delayed until at least September.

A Leahy aide said the senator will continue to work with Republicans to address their concerns. The Senate could pass the legislation without unanimous support, but it would take up valuable floor time to override a filibuster.

Texas takes the lead on e-mail privacy

While not a remedy for the NSA’s broad surveillance of Americans, Texans can at least take some comfort in knowing that state and local enforcement officials are now prohibited from rummaging around their e-mail without a warrant:

Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) signed HB2268 into law June 14, preventing all state and local law enforcement from rummaging through Texans’ email inboxes without a warrant.

The ground-breaking legislation gives Texas residents more privacy over their e-mails than anywhere else  in the U.S.

Pushback against law enforcement snooping came after 29-year-old state Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-92), who represents an area between Dallas and Ft. Worth, added an amendment to the Texas House bill barring authorities from unwarranted email searches.

“Because of the overwhelming support the bill received in the House and Senate it is effective immediately. Before this landmark legislation, state and local officials had the ability to read your emails without a warrant if the email had been opened or had sat unopened in your inbox for longer than 180 days. That just didn’t make sense,” Stickland told Russia Today.

This law obviously has no impact on federal law or law enforcement agencies. That’s been an issue raised recently in Congress, and it could get a look due to the recent revelations about the NSA’s surveillance of Americans.

DOJ Claims It Can Read Your E-mail without a Warrant

During the debate in the House of Representatives over cyber-security, the White House issued veto threat over CISPA due to Internet privacy concerns. Despite that strong stance on a controversial piece of legislation, there have been a number of news stories recently showing various government agencies willingness to ignore constitutional protections to gain access to e-mail and other forms of electronic communication and files.

In fact, it’s the official policy of President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that agents do not need a warrant when they want to gain access to e-mail and Facebook accounts:

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.

Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.


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