NACDL Press Release: Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Welcomes Passage by House of Representatives of the Email Privacy Act
Washington, DC (Feb. 6, 2017) – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387). This bill is a long overdue update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a bill passed in 1986 that governs the treatment of electronic communications. The Email Privacy Act establishes that law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant to access the content of most electronic communications and cloud-stored content from third-party providers and eliminates the arbitrary rule that would allow the government to obtain emails older than 180 days with a subpoena. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the last Congress 419-0.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is heartened that the House of Representatives has strengthened the Fourth Amendment protections by ensuring that the government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause to access email content and other electronic communications and content stored in the cloud. NACDL remains concerned, however, that the bill as amended removes the requirement for law enforcement to provide notice to an individual that their electronic communications and documents stored online, such as emails, texts, photos, and notes, among others, have been obtained from their provider and provides no remedy to those whose communications may have been obtained improperly.