Of all the outdated privacy laws, one of the most absurd is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Passed 30 years ago, the law defies the Constitution and commonsense — it says the government can access emails without a warrant just because they’re over 180 days old. What?!
Congress has the the chance to fix this right now. There is a bill in the House, known as the Email Privacy Act (HR 699) that has 310 cosponsors —that’s well over two-thirds of the House, making it the most popular bill in Congress. The bill would require the government get a warrant for email, just like it needs a warrant to access postal mail. It’s a no-brainer, and if the Email Privacy Act went to a floor vote in the House tomorrow, it would pass in a landslide.
After years of saying this is a priority, Chairman Goodlatte has finally pledged to bring the bill to a committee vote in March. Fortunately, an overwhelming majority of committee members have cosponsored the bill.
However, the Chairman needs to hear from the public and be persuaded on two key points:
First, Chairman Goodlatte must stay true to his promise and allow the vote to happen — any delay is completely unacceptable after years of inaction.
Second, the Chairman must stand with the public, an overwhelming majority of Congress and his own committee by supporting the Email Privacy Act— this includes rejecting any amendments that would weaken the bill and endanger the public’s privacy and constitutional rights.
Please sign the petition to Chairman Goodlatte and Members of Congress asking them to move quickly on a vote and to support the Email Privacy Act. Few bills ever reach this level of popularity and bipartisan support — this is a golden opportunity for the Chairman and Representatives to show all those disillusioned by Washington gridlock that Congress can stand for the public interest and civil liberties by passing this much-needed legislation.