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Majority of US House supports overhaul of email privacy protections

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Laws governing the privacy of communications across the internet are severely out of date in the US, but the movement to improve them may be starting to get somewhere. According to Google's public policy blog, a majority of the members of the House of Representatives have now declared their support for the Email Privacy Act, a bill that would overhaul communication privacy by requiring that the government obtain a warrant before asking a company to hand over communications, such as email, that were stored on its servers.

The legislation also removes a strange loophole that allowed the government to obtain email without a warrant so long as it was at least 180 days old. "This common-sense reform is long overdue," David Lieber, a senior Google legal advisor, writes. "While well-intentioned when enacted in 1986, [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act] no longer reflects users’ reasonable expectations of privacy." Support for similar legislation has come and gone across Congress, but this is still one of the better signs that reform efforts for laws like the ECPA could see movement soon.