Legislation to update the 30-year old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 U.S.C. §2510 et seq.) have stalled in the US Senate Judiciary Committee. This comes after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own bill in late April by a vote of 419- 0. The Senate Committee, which has put off a vote on its version of the bill several times, has dual-party support for the bill which would require court-ordered warrants to search the emails and other data stored with third parties for more than six months. The point of contention at this stage is an amendment sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and supported by the FBI, that would expand the authority of the FBI to use administrative subpoenas under the National Security Letter surveillance program. The Cornyn amendment would permit the FBI to obtain, without a court-ordered warrant, IP addresses, routing and transmission data, session information, an individual’s browsing record, message metadata, location data and the specific date and time an individual signs in or out of a particular online account. Opponents of the amendment argue that it would increase the prospect of government surveillance in a bill that is intended to enhance privacy protections.
Cornyn’s Amendment (PDF)