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house Bill H.R. 699

Before Searching Your Email, Should Law Enforcement Officials Have To Get A Warrant?

Argument in favor

Personal emails, text messages, and other files in the cloud should have the same Fourth Amendment privacy protections as paper communications.

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05/27/2015
“I want our law enforcement people to be vigorous in going after terrorists. But I happen to believe they can do that without disregarding... the civil liberties of the American people” -Bernie Sanders on sanders.senate.gov
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helmsworth's Opinion
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03/08/2015
It's no different than searching your home. Police should only be able to to check your emails with a bunch of good reasons, in the form of a warrant, in hand.
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Patriot's Opinion
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03/04/2015
Personal Email should have the same privacy expectations as Snail Mail. If they want to read it, they should have to show probable cause that there is a reason to read it.
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Argument opposed

Blocking the government from accessing suspicious electronic communications poses a threat to individual and national security.

Art's Opinion
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03/03/2015
If you are suspected of a crime or are on a terror list, YES but just for a chance to find something, NO
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cuylarp's Opinion
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04/07/2015
The only reason to hide emails and the like is if you're doing something illegal. Law enforcement can feel free to rummage through my spam but it doesn't hinder me and there's nothing of note in my email so why not?
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Cole's Opinion
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05/18/2015
If you have nothing to hide why should you care?
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed April 27th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 419 Yea / 0 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedFebruary 4th, 2015

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What is House Bill H.R. 699?

Under current law, the federal government can access your personal electronic communications — including emails, text messages, and documents stored on online servers without a warrant:

"Law enforcement officials don’t need to obtain a warrant for emails, documents or items stored digitally in the cloud, as long as they are older than 180 days. Instead, they can nab the data with a subpoena, which does not come from a court and is often easier to obtain."

If passed, this bill would require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before digging into your information from Internet service providers.

Investigating parties would also have to give a copy of the warrant to the customer they are checking out ten days in advance. The government can, however, apply for an order to extend the period of time before the customer is informed. The bill does not prevent government officials from obtaining information about a person’s location.

Impact

People who use the Internet and store information in the cloud, all those scandalous emails, people involved in electronic communications investigations, law enforcement officials, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 699

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In Depth:

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act has not been updated since 1986. Sponsoring Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) introduced this amendment to bring the act, written before most people had email accounts, into the modern age. Arguing that electronic communications should receive the same Fourth Amendment privacy protection that apply to written communications, he said in a statement

“I don’t think Americans believe that the Constitution ends with the invention of the Internet.” 

The bill has received wide bipartisan support. On the other hand, many critics have pointed out that this bill does not ensure total privacy online. While the government would be barred from freely accessing the content of online communication — investigators would still be able to obtain information about a customer’s communications, including names, locations, and addresses.


Media:

(Photo Credit: "Amiiga4000DP" by Kaiiv. Original uploader was Kaiiv at de.wikipedia Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons)

AKA

Email Privacy Act

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to update the privacy protections for electronic communications information that is stored by third-party service providers in order to protect consumer privacy interests while meeting law enforcement needs, and for other purposes.

    “I want our law enforcement people to be vigorous in going after terrorists. But I happen to believe they can do that without disregarding... the civil liberties of the American people” -Bernie Sanders on sanders.senate.gov
    Like (346)
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    If you are suspected of a crime or are on a terror list, YES but just for a chance to find something, NO
    Like (32)
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    It's no different than searching your home. Police should only be able to to check your emails with a bunch of good reasons, in the form of a warrant, in hand.
    Like (115)
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    Personal Email should have the same privacy expectations as Snail Mail. If they want to read it, they should have to show probable cause that there is a reason to read it.
    Like (88)
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    Rights are absolute, national security comes second to an individuals right.
    Like (34)
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    The fourth ammendment should be kept and your E-mails are your property
    Like (15)
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    If search warrants are needed to search homes and cars, then they are needed for email and text messages. Even if over the web, these things are American's personal and intellectual property.
    Like (14)
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    If I had to choose between liberty and security, I would choose liberty every single time! It is not revolutionary to believe that you have the right to privacy, and that a warrant should be issued when your actions are in doubt! This bill is an opportunity to gain back some of the liberties we have lost over the ages.
    Like (13)
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    The only reason to hide emails and the like is if you're doing something illegal. Law enforcement can feel free to rummage through my spam but it doesn't hinder me and there's nothing of note in my email so why not?
    Like (13)
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    If you have nothing to hide why should you care?
    Like (9)
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    Yes they should get a warrant. Unless they're Batman. Or me. 😂 jk, I won't search through people's email. Besides, what would they hope to gain by going through someone's email? If they went through mine all they'd see are spam, junk from my boss, and annoying family emails.
    Like (7)
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    Absolutely! When law enforcement has substantial reason to believe a person is in possession of illegal material or is in possession of evidence of criminal acts they get a warrant and search your stuff! Good! Think someone's plotting an attack? Get a warrant! Think a drug dealer is soliciting deals via email? Good! Get a warrant! Bypassing the warrant system will only give rise to unjustified invasions of privacy on little to no evidence. That's clearly not protection nor in our best interests
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    I am quite frankly sick of this country thinking it can stick its damn nose in everyone's business, it's time it started following its own rules.
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    This is a constitutionally supported right. Patriot Act and DHS meddling notwithstanding.
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    The 4th amendment doesn't become irrelevant because people fear potential terrorism. That's what the 2nd amendment is for, unfortunately leftists want both to be irrelevant. Because they're lunatics.
    Like (4)
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    Law enforcement shouldn't be able to overstep individual privacy simply because legislation has not been written yet.
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    An email account is part of a persons' property, even if it resides in a digital domain. And search warrants of a person or property require warrants. Nothing else to argue here.
    Like (3)
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    Just the same as paper communication, electronic communication should be protected by the fourth amendment.
    Like (3)
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    The federal government already goes way beyond its authority in the area of monitoring law abiding citizens, especially those they deem a threat simply because of our affiliations with groups like the NRA or even many evangelical Christian groups. Warrantless intrusions into personal email and social media accounts are just additional proof of a government out of control.
    Like (3)
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    The right to privacy is a fundamental right. Technological communications should be given the same protections as paper communications.
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