Lee Urges Congress to Protect Americans’ Digital Privacy Rights

In an op-ed, Sen. Mike Lee pushes his proposed legislation that would force government officials to get a warrant before they could access the private emails of U.S. citizens. 

Writes Lee at The Hill:

January 28 marks Data Privacy Day—an annual day to raise awareness about personal and data privacy in an era when we store the majority of our business and personal lives online. It is also an important opportunity to remind Congress that Americans’ digital privacy rights remain exposed under an outdated law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which allows the government to access our private emails to friends, photos shared with family members and a host of other personal communications conducted online without a warrant.

A year ago on this date, Republicans and Democrats came together in both the Senate and House in an unprecedented show of support to introduce legislation (S. 356, the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act and H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act) to fix this gaping hole in our privacy rights. Nearly everyone across the political spectrum agrees on a simple premise: that there must be limits on government access to Americans’ emails. These bills would accomplish this by requiring government officials to go before a judge, which is the same process they go through to gain access to enter our homes or open a letter sent through the mail.

Despite a massive show of support that only continues to grow, there has been limited activity in the House and Senate. The Senate held a hearing in September followed by a House Judiciary hearing in December. Yet both pieces of legislation are still stalled in committee and not even set for a markup, let alone a floor vote.