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Communications Government Privacy

What Congress' New Email-privacy Bill Means For Your Inbox 90

erier2003 writes: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act has a simple and vital purpose: making it harder for the government to get your email, instant messages, and Facebook chats. It amends a decades-old law to require government agencies to get a warrant to access the contents of any email or other electronic record—no matter how old those communications are. Sen. Mike Lee, one of the bill's cosponsors, told the Daily Dot why it matters. "The bill adds a warrant requirement for communications that were previously considered so old as to be irrelevant to their participants and unworthy of privacy protections. Right now, emails and other electronic messages older than 180 days are considered to have been “abandoned” by the people who sent and received them. Law-enforcement agencies don't need to get a warrant to force a company like Google or Facebook to turn over those communications." The act also requires the government to notify people whose records it has acquired, though they can delay that notice for 90 or 180 days if they feel sending it will put somebody at risk.
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What Congress' New Email-privacy Bill Means For Your Inbox

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  • it means nothing, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @02:11PM (#50526557)
    they'll just have all traffic routed offshore where it can be freely trawled through in a 'constitution free' zone, or else get the Brits to intercept it all as it goes via a British controlled territory...
    • they'll just have all traffic routed offshore where it can be freely trawled through in a 'constitution free' zone, or else get the Brits to intercept it all as it goes via a British controlled territory...

      Theres absolutely no need to route the traffic overseas or through British controlled territory.

      All that needs to happen is that the data is transmitted, it doesn't even need to be collected by any US agency.

      Then the 5 eyes agreement kicks in; US counterintelligence will not stop the British, Canadian, New Zealand nor Australian intelligence agencies intercepting this data in the USA and then feeding that data to US intelligence agencies.

    • Its ok, we're on a mission from god.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This sounds too good to be true (for personal rights), so either...
    - it won't make it through to legislation
    - it is being used simply to bargain with law enforcement agencies
    - it will some how have a loop hole that means they can go about their business as they do today

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dead in committee:

    Latest Action: 02/04/2015 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

  • How is something we have no control over in the first place be considered abandoned? I delete my emails "Insert free email provider here" doesn't really delete them they just make it so i cant see it anymore. How can that be considered abandoned? I have US mail letters my first girlfriend sent me are they considered abandoned? no. I don't use my ISP email address Like everyone else because of spam and scams. So what are they doing with deleted,stored emails? That email is paid for it is not free email. IMO
    • How is something we have no control over in the first place be considered abandoned?

      The law was written back when POP (post office protocol) was the standard. Basically it downloaded your messages from the server and then deleted the server copy. If the messages were still there after six months it basically meant you weren't using your email and it was probably a legitimate assumption that they were abandoned. Obviously things have changed.

  • Gotta maintain the status quo. And if it does pass, that means they don't need to ask for it to get it.

  • by tiberus ( 258517 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @02:48PM (#50526865)

    "The bill adds a warrant requirement for communications that were previously considered so old as to be irrelevant to their participants and unworthy of privacy protections. Right now, emails and other electronic messages older than 180 days are considered to have been “abandoned” by the people who sent and received them. Law-enforcement agencies don't need to get a warrant to force a company like Google or Facebook to turn over those communications."

    Okay, so something a mere 180 days old is "irrelevant" to me and "abandoned" by me but, is of value to the government in my prosecution?!?

    Things that make ya go CENSORED.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @02:57PM (#50526937) Homepage

    Law-enforcement agencies don't need to get a warrant to force a company like Google or Facebook to turn over those communications. Agencies just need to assert in writing that they need the communication to further an active investigation.

    If that is the case, it is because Google and Facebook *choose* to turn over those communications. Back when the constitution was written, it was assumed that the accused would refuse to provide information without a warrant. But today, most of our information is held by 3rd-parties who have no reason to withhold our information. So the 4th amendment doesn't work any more.

    The ultimate fault here is that when Google holds my email, it should be *my* email not theirs, so they should not have the legal power to give it out without my consent. That is how the post office worked. They are actually not allowed to intercept mail without a warrant: it isn't theirs to give out. We lost that protection. Same without your gas-and-electric bill, your credit card records, and your passwords (don't forget that one if you use a password manager!). Those things are not yours, so the constitutional protections don't apply.

    • This is why it's vital to run your own email server. It's not hard -- "apt-get install exim4 sa-exim" will give you a decent state that's working out of the box (you can adjust it further if you know how), requires hardly any maintenance, and can be shared with friends/family who don't know what a "server" is.

      If you run your own mail, any secret warrants (or warrantless expeditions!) are out, except for man-in-the-middle attacks (ordinary SSL being no-good because it's trivial to silently disable). And th

    • The ultimate fault here is that when Google holds my email, it should be *my* email not theirs, so they should not have the legal power to give it out without my consent.

      You don't have to use Google or Facebook. You can still set up your own email server or web server to post your daily activities. You choose to use Google and Facebook for the convenience, and that convenience comes with the lessened personal protections. Those companies have no duty to protect your rights, or more precisely, you have n

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        The Post Office (1) delivers mail...So using the Post Office as an analogy...

        It wasn't an analogy. It was a literal statement of fact.

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        You don't have to use Google or Facebook.

        Yes, and think bigger!

        To effectively regain my 4th amendment rights as they were when the constitution was written, I would need to avoid the power company, credit card companies, banks, credit monitoring services, Amazon, ebay, hospitals, grocery stores, phone companies, and ISPs. They all could share my information with the government, without a warrant, and without notifying me. We have some specific laws in place for medical records and banking records - but those are the exception, not the rule.

        This

        • ... the default legal position is that any data they have on you is theirs to disseminate, not yours.

          The problem is: Is it YOUR record of YOUR business purchasing from them, or is it THEIR record of THEIR business selling to you? It's both.

    • Bear in mind that the reason the post office was not allowed to intercept mail was PRECISELY because it was being run by the government, so when it was founded, nobody would trust it without such explicit guarantees. The example of bills and bank records is more complex: are those YOUR records of YOUR private business, or are they the company's records of the company's business with you?
  • It's all in the fine print, and the unconstitutional extra-legal actions of those supposed to defend us from outside threats, who spy on us against our own Constitution, state Constitutions, and federal and state laws which do not permit them to do so, but who will never go to jail for their actions in so doing.

    Welcome to serfdom. ... pause ...

    Actually, no, serfs had rights.

    You don't.

  • The article poster used an awful lot of words when "jack shit" would have sufficed.

  • Lee is a Republican from Utah.

    If Slashdot was a reputable source of news, they'd include the party and district (or state, when appropriate... as a Senator, Lee's district is all of Utah) every time they mention an elected official.

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      Why? So you can pass ad hominem judgement based on the team he plays for? Coming from outside the US I've always found the American penchant for naming politicians with a little letter beside their name a bit odd. Particularly when from an outside perspective both main parties are virtually identical in policy terms. I think I'd prefer to judge congress people on their own merit rather than painting them with a broad team brush all the time.

      • 1. If we're talking about a proposed law, this is a hint to how likely it is that the law will be enacted pass. (If you're familiar with parlimentary systems, think about the difference between a proposal by the real Minister of Whatever and the Shadow Minister of Whatever.)

        2. If you live in the person's district, and you like the kind of things they propose, you should remember to vote for them in the next election. (Alternatively, if you dislike the kind of scandals they get in, you should remember not t

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @03:55PM (#50527329)

    "What Congress' New Email-privacy Bill Means For Your Inbox"

    If the Do-not-call Registry, or the 4th Amendment are any indication, not much.

  • By the time this bill is law, it will be changed so much that it defends the privacy of your inbox every bit as well as CAN-SPAM defends it from unsolicited commercial email.
  • So they can request notifications be delayed..... nice. So is it a felony for them to improperly request delay? I feel it should be. They are supposed to understand the law they enfoce, they should be held to the strictest standards against it.

    One of the worst things we do is allow law enforcement to go around bending and breaking laws, while holding everyone else's balls to the fire.

    If they are trying to put others in jeapordy, they should face the same. Every single time, and it should be severe.

  • The last bill that was past was claiming to reign in spying, but it for the first time legalized spying on American citizens. People were claiming it reigned in spying powers, but it actually gave out tons of legalized spying powers. I love the USA, but the people writing the laws like to treat us like mushrooms.
  • They could say that if the government did something wrong, the resposible people would be hanged in public by default without a trial, but that means nothing.

    If your kid steals a cookie and all you do is say he should not do it, the kid will steal more cookies. This is not because the kid is bad, this is because the parent does nothing.

    And then people say "but the constitution says ..." So? It might be nice as a starting point for a discussion, but in reality it means nothing.

  • So, if the government needs a warrant to read your emails, what about Google?

  • If things 180 day old were no use, we'd have no slashdot at all ;-)

  • Passing laws does nothing to curtail the actions of those with no intent to follow the law.

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