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Senate vote on bill requiring warrants for e-mail searches
Justice Department officials resisting legislation
Support builds for revising email privacy protections
Law enforcement officials will try to make their case for leaving in place a 25-year-old email privacy law critics call woefully outdated as the Senate continues to weigh adding new protections to safeguard digital communications.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is debating a proposed revision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which once kept digital correspondence reasonably confidential, but has, according to critics, been left in the dust by the Internet Age. When first enacted in 1986, few people kept old emails that can now be stored cheaply and indefinitely. Yet the law still requires only an administrative subpoena for law enforcement to access emails older than six months. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wants the law revised to require a court-issued warrant, and also has other changes in mind.