Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also introduced legislation to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a key source of legal protection for email privacy. Leahy was the lead author of ECPA, which was enacted in 1986 to protect the privacy of American’s electronic communications. However, the electronic world has changed dramatically since the law’s enactment and the law may not adequately protect the privacy of individuals in this new world.

Senator Leahy’s bill would require a government agency to obtain a search warrant from a court any time it wants to read an email. Further, Senator Leahy states that this legislation:

  • Includes new protections for Americans’ location information that is collected, used or stored by service providers, smartphones and other mobile technologies.
  • Includes a provision to enhance the cybersecurity of U.S. computer networks, by allowing service providers to voluntarily disclose content to the government that is pertinent to addressing a cyber-attack involving their computer network.
  • Improves law enforcement tools, including a provision to allow the government to temporarily delay notification of its access of stored electronic communications, if notification would endanger national security.