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Congressman Kevin Yoder

Representing the 3rd District of Kansas

Most Popular Bill Yet to Pass? The Email Privacy Act

Jun 25, 2015
Press Release
With 281 co-sponsors, Legislation to Strengthen Online Privacy Still Awaits Action

Washington, D.C. - Americans have demanded greater privacy protections for their online communications and the majority of Congress agrees - overwhelmingly. The Email Privacy Act has now reached 281 co-sponsors, making it the most supported bill in the House of Representatives that has not been passed. Sponsored by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO), this bill would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to ensure Americans’ online communications are protected from unwarranted government intrusion.

“When ECPA was written, the internet as we understand it did not exist. Only 340,000 Americans even subscribed to cell phone service. Mark Zuckerberg was only two years old. But as our society and technology has evolved, our digital privacy laws remain stuck in 1986. With our bill now receiving the distinction of the most-cosponsored bill yet to be considered by the House, the time has arrived to fix that,” Rep. Yoder said after testifying before the House Judiciary Committee during its Criminal Justice Reform Listening Session this morning.

“For too long now Americans’ electronic communications have been subject to invasive and unwarranted searches based on laws written for the Apple 2, not the iPhone 6. Today, 281 of my colleagues—an overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives--are standing up to say that the government has no more business reading your personal email than it does reading your physical mail. The Email Privacy Act is an important bill that deserves a vote,” Rep. Polis said.

“Being the most supported bill in Congress without moving to the floor is a dubious honor, but it shows just how incredibly broad the support is for strong privacy protections for our online communications. Americans deserve warrant protections for their emails and Congress has clearly heard this message from their constituents loud and clear. The Email Privacy Act represents a vital step forward in ensuring our privacy is respected online. Let’s move this bill forward for a vote by the full House now,” said Chris Calabrese of the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and a member of Digital 4th.

“When ECPA was written in 1986, most Americans did not have email accounts. It was impossible for Congress to foresee the type of technological advancements nearly three decades later. As a result, our emails, photos, documents and other items stored in the cloud are in jeopardy of government intrusion. Privacy rights should not stop online. The Email Privacy Act is an important bill to protect the privacy of all Americans and should be voted on without delay,” said Katie McAuliffe of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and a member of Digital 4th.

ECPA sets the standard for government access to Americans’ online communications and as currently written opens the door to unwarranted government intrusion. Reforming the law would ensure Americans’ 4th amendment rights are strengthened on the Internet and protects citizens from government snooping.

Digital 4th is a bipartisan coalition dedicated to bringing Fourth Amendment protections into the 21st century. The members consist of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), and Heritage Action for America.