WASHINGTON (April 13, 2016) – As the House Judiciary Committee moves today to mark up electronic privacy legislation, the R Street Institute believes the manager’s amendment forwarded by Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., represents a reasonable compromise that preserves key aspects of the original bill.

H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act, enjoys broad support from privacy advocates and the technology industry and has attracted 315 bipartisan cosponsors. The bill would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to ensure law enforcement must obtain a warrant to access citizens’ online messages and other electronic content during a criminal investigation.

“This legislation represents a balanced, bipartisan approach to restore the privacy millions of Americans expect to enjoy in their email and other forms of online communication,” R Street Policy Analyst Nathan Leamer said. “We urge the committee to forward the legislation to the House floor for consideration as soon as possible.”

Leamer noted that while the amendment language is not perfect, it largely preserves what was already a very popular and widely supported bill. R Street is disappointed that the amendment removes a key provision that required law enforcement to provide notice directly to users that investigators are seeking their online data. However, it also takes protection one step further by applying the warrant requirement to all law enforcement, rather than exempting civil agencies from the measure.

“Most of our lives are on our screens,” Leamer said. “It’s about time we expand essential Fourth Amendment protections to our phones and computer correspondence.”

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