In a vote of 419-0 on Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act that would require the government to obtain a warrant in order to access digital communications stored in the cloud. Privacy advocates cheered the victory and said it was a win for U.S. citizens and companies.
The Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699), which reforms the decade-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act, requires a warrant by the government before it can access email or other stored digital media that is more than 180 days old. Currently, federal agencies only need a subpoena to seek such data from a service provider.
The bill now faces Senate approval, which experts say may not be as easy as the House passage. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee told The Washington Times Thursday, “Members of this committee on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about the details of this reform, and whether it’s balanced to reflect issues raised by law enforcement.”