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Senator Patrick Leahy: No Warrantless E-Mail Access for Federal Authorities

November 28, 2012

Senator Patrick Leahy made the following statement on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA):

“I welcome the upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee debate on updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to better protect Americans’ digital privacy rights. Today, this critical privacy law is significantly outdated and out-paced by rapid changes in technology and the changing mission of our law enforcement agencies.

“When I led the effort to write the ECPA more than 25 years ago, no one could have imagined that emails would be stored electronically for years or envisioned the many new threats to privacy in cyberspace. That is why I am working to update this law to reflect the realities of our time and to better protect privacy in the digital age. I join the many privacy advocates, technology leaders, legal scholars and other stakeholders who support reforming ECPA to improve privacy rights in cyberspace. I hope that all members of the Committee will join me in supporting the effort in Congress to update this law to protect Americans’ privacy.”

The legislation authored by Chairman Leahy and before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday updates existing law so that Americans will have added privacy safeguards for their email and other electronic communications. The issue of electronic privacy has been the subject of two hearings in the Committee in recent years, as well as the Committee’s most recent executive business meeting.

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