Leahy Denies Gutting Email Privacy Bill

Aide: 'There are not going to be any changes for allowing warrantless access to email'

Patrick Leahy / AP
November 20, 2012

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) denied carving out broad authority for warrantless searching of Americans’ email accounts Tuesday following a news report he had rewritten a Senate bill originally intended to strengthen electronic privacy.

CNET reported Tuesday morning that Leahy had "quietly rewritten" an update to the Electronic Privacy Communications Act under pressure from law enforcement groups to allow up to 22 federal agencies warrantless access to email accounts and other private digital accounts.

Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, were quick to push back on the story.

"Senator Leahy does not support broad carve outs for warrantless searches of email content. He remains committed to upholding privacy laws and updating the outdated Electronic Privacy Communications Act," a Senate Judiciary Committee spokesperson said in a statement.

A Senate Judiciary Committee aide added, "There are not going to be any changes for allowing warrantless access to email."

Leahy took to Twitter to counter the story, which went viral after being picked up by Drudge Report and several other news outlets.

"The whole point of the Leahy reforms is 2 require search warrants 4 govt to access email stored with 3-party service providers under #ECPA," Leahy’s Twitter account said.

"Ideas from many sources always circulate b4 a markup 4 disc., but Sen.Leahy does NOT support such an exception for #ECPA search warrants," the account added.

The Senate is expected to vote on the Electronic Privacy Communications Act next week.

Published under: Congress , Patrick Leahy