Oklahoma Bill Would Prohibit Email Scanning

A privacy bill that addresses email only has been introduced in the Oklahoma State Legislature.  

House Bill 2810, the so-called Oklahoma Email Communication Content Privacy Protection Act, would prohibit email service providers from scanning subject lines or the body of any email communication sent to its users, and from letting any other entity do so.

The author of the proposed legislation is State Representative Collin Walke (D-Oklahoma City).

The bill would be enforced by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. This body would have the authority to examine books, records, computer files or any other property of the alleged offender.

The penalties would range from $500 to $5,000 per offense. Each event would constitute a separate violation.

The resulting monies would be placed in a fund to be set up by the state treasury: the Oklahoma E-Mail Communication Content Privacy Protection Revolving Fund. They would be applied to the cost of administering the act.

Also, the Corporation Commission would have the power to issue an order enjoining the service provider from conducting the prohibited activity.

The bill’s legislative prospects were unclear at deadline. But Walke has drawn support from at least one local newspaper: the Tahlequah Daily Press.

“Walke hopes House Bill 2810 will be just the first move toward what he calls a ‘more balanced and fair use of our private information,’” the paper writes. “He pointed out that although email was originally a simple and efficient tool that was used by some, in today's world, it's become an absolute necessity.” 

It continues, “Just as Oklahomans can opt out of unwanted junk "snail mail," he wants them to be able to protect themselves from emails that come as a result of data exploitation.” 

The editorial adds that “Google, Microsoft and other tech giants have used their servers to peek into emails of millions of Americans.”

The paper notes, perhaps wryly, that while “Walke may be a Democrat, he ought to pull support from colleagues of every stripe.”


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