In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has introduced or cosponsored this legislation in the last two congresses, and in a press release announcing its reintroduction in the 115th Congress Lee said:
"The Electronic Communications Protect Act was written 30 years ago before the widespread use of email. Americans now expect that their email communications will have the same privacy protections as their written communications. This bill would provide common sense protection."
The bill has received wide bipartisan support in the past. 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 after they get a warrant.
Currently, this bill has the bipartisan support of seven cosponsors in the Senate, including four Democrats and three Republicans.
A companion bill in the House was passed in February on a unanimous voice vote.During the last Congress the legislation passed the House unanimously on a 419-0 vote but wasn't considered in the Senate. That version of it was also one of the most popular bills on Countable, gaining the support of 94 percent of users.
Of Note: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act has not been updated since 1986. 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."
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: "Amiiga4000DP" by Kaiiv. Original uploader was Kaiiv at de.wikipedia / Creative Commons)