Over objections from law- enforcement officials, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would require police to get a search warrant from a judge before they can review a person’s emails or other electronic communications.
The bill passed Thursday makes it slightly more difficult for the government to access the content of a consumer’s emails and private files from Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other Internet providers. Under the current law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a warrant is needed only for emails less than 6 months old.
The committee chairman and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said digital files on a computer should have the same safeguards as paper files stored in a home.
The full Senate, which is in a lame-duck session, is not expected to vote on the legislation until it reconvenes early next year. The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee hasn’t yet voted on a similar bill introduced by Democrats.