US House approves update of e-mail privacy laws
US House approves update of e-mail privacy laws

The US House of Representatives [official website] on Monday approved HR 387 [text], a bipartisan bill that updates US privacy laws in regards to e-mail and cloud storage. Most importantly, the bill will require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before searching US citizens’ data that has been stored with third-party service providers. The previous law, adopted in 1986, allowed searches without warrants for data stored for more than 180 days as if that data had been abandoned. Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), the sponsor of the bill, said [House record] it was necessary to reflect the fact that “232 million Americans send an email at least once per month.”

Governments around the world have re-examined their data privacy laws in the wake of a myriad of data leaks, including the Edward Snowden [JURIST backgrounder] leaks. National governments around the world have attempted [JURIST op-ed] to gain control over data transferred within their borders. In October 2015 the European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that EU user data transferred to the US was not sufficiently protected. In June 2015 a court in The Hague struck down [JURIST report] a Dutch law that allowed the government to retain telephone and Internet data of Dutch citizens for up to 12 months in an effort to combat terrorism and organized crime.