A Vermont congressman is working on a piece of legislation that,
if enacted, would threaten email and other social media privacy
Last week Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) set out to amend the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 that would extend
privacy rights regarding email.
Gayle Trotter, general counsel for the Washington-based Independent Women's
Forum, claims Leahy was on the right track until he caved to
"But then he got pushed back from law enforcement groups that
did not want to have their investigation efforts bound, really by
the Fourth Amendment, which protects us in our papers and effects
subject to warrant supported by probable cause," she explains.
"So he amended his legislation so that 22 federal agencies could
tap into our electronic communication with just a subpoena instead
of a warrant."
That means government agencies could easily get access to email
accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive or cloud-based services
such as Skype.
"We have to be constantly watching these senators and
congressmen in Congress because they will say that they are doing
one thing, but once they get pushed back by special interests and
lobbyists, they change what they're doing, frequently to the exact
opposite of what they say the rational for their legislation is,"
Trotter says. "So you can't trust what they say."
Trotter warns while the legislation is intended to increase
privacy protections, it actually lowers the legal standard for
email and social media accounts as well as IP addresses.
Read Gayle Trotter's
Unwarranted intrusion: Your email is