Today Americans use email to communicate as much as any other communication device. Whether it’s for work or personal use, our schedules and secrets live in our inboxes. It didn’t always use to be like this though. Twenty years ago most people didn’t trust email services enough to use email as a storage system for their personal information.
It was this kind of thinking that influenced the 1986 Electronic Communication Privacy Act. Under this act law enforcement agencies can access emails that were more than 180 days old using only a subpoena, not a search warrant.
Legislation is now moving through the house that would change this. By requiring a search warrant lawmakers hope to extend the same rules that apply to physical searches to searches that are done in the digital world.
Requiring a search warrant means law enforcement will typically have to show probable cause to search the emails.
Richard Salgado, director of law enforcement at Google, said the current laws “do not reflect the reasonable expectations of privacy of users.”
The proposed law still allows law enforcement agencies to still get emails without a warrant if terrorism is suspected. Lawmakers are trying to find a good balance between people’s right to privacy and law enforcement’s need to protect the public.
So far the bill has received support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Bills like this are necessary to ensure everyday people’s rights are protected. Protection from unlawful search and seizure is guaranteed to every American by the fourth amendment and it’s time this right is updated to meet today’s standards.
If you feel that you have experienced an unlawful search and seizure by law enforcement call an experienced Oklahoma City search and seizure lawyer like Jacqui Ford. Having published articles and taught classes on the topic of search and seizure, Jacqui Ford is well equipped to handle any unlawful search and seizure case.