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December 26, 2012
Senate approves warrantless email surveillance
Posted by Staff
Buzz Feed reports:

Legislation sent to President Obama this week quietly removed language in a bill that would have — for the first time — forced law enforcement to obtain a warrant to read Americans' email. Currently, private email that has been stored by a third-party for more than 180 days can be accessed by the government without a warrant.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had added the provision demanding that police show probable cause for email searches to legislation primarily aimed to allow users the ability to post on their Facebook feeds what they are watching on video service. The bill, the Video Privacy Protection Act, changed laws passed in 1988 that made it illegal disclose someone's video rental history following the leak of failed-Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video history to the Washington City Paper.

The bill was praised by Netflix as a modernization of the law "giving consumers more freedom." It passed the Senate on a voice voice vote, but without the language that would have forced law enforcement to obtain warrants rather than simply subpoenas to snoop into private emails.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) blasted the removal.

“If Netflix is going to get an update to the privacy law, we think the American people should get an update to the privacy law,” Chris Calabrese, the legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union told Wired.
12/26/12 6:38 AM
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