House Unanimously Favors Email Privacy Reform

The United States House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of the Email Privacy Act on Wednesday.

With a 419-0 vote, the House of Representatives have set the stage for a Senate vote on digital privacy in the potentially near future.

The Email Privacy Act, H.R. 699, would require any law enforcement official to obtain a warrant from a judge before accessing private electronic communication and documents.

The bill updates a 30-year-old bill, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allowed emails and other digital communications to be obtained by subpoena if over 180 days old. Originally passed before the rise of cloud storage, the 1986 bill has been criticized by many for being outdated. 

Since a warrant requires probably cause, the Email Privacy Act would strengthen digital privacy. Law enforcement can still access a customer’s contact, payment and geographic information, however, with only a subpoena.

Originally introduced in the House last year by Kansas Representative Kevin Yoder, the bill has found widespread bipartisan support with more than 314 co-sponsors from across both aisles.

The House Judiciary Committee also previously voted unanimously in favor of the bill earlier this month with a 29-0 vote.


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