by Jacqueline Stoughton
Online privacy and security has been a political issue for some time now, but it seems Congress is finally beginning to make some move on a bill requiring a search warrant from a judge before law enforcements are allowed to freely search through a persons email, photos and other online documents.
The internet, while it’s advanced and innovative capabilities has surged Americans into the great technological era, has proved to be just as dangerous when used irresponsibly. Americans have definitely taken the powers of the internet for granted and most of the time, abuse them.
The hope is maybe this bill will act as a reality check for some abusive Americans who take advantage of what the internet has to offer and teach them how to use it in a responsible manner.
The older version of this bill passed in 1986 under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act required government agents to obtain a search warrant to search through emails on servers such as Yahoo and Google. The warrant would only allow them to search messages less than 180 days old, messages older than that would require issuing subpoenas to technology companies.
This updated bill, introduced by Kevin Yoder (R-KS.) in the House now has 300 co-sponsors, making it very likely to pass. The bill requires a warrant for all online information of any type of file regardless of how old it is. There’s also an exception clause in the legislation that allows civil enforcement agencies to obtain subpoena messages sent by employees on their companies or corporate computers.
Although at the time it made sense for the original version of this law to have it the way it was, it’s definitely overdue for some improvements. So many shady deals go down on the internet – something that was supposed to technologically advance us and be used as a helpful tool in everyday life, is being abused beyond belief by irresponsible users.
It’s rare for me to agree with a bill proposed by a Republican – but this is something that is an absolute necessity in today’s society. It’s a seamless process for law enforcement to obtain such search warrants, according to most legal experts it’s a very rare occasion where a judge denies a warrant as long as probable cause is clearly displayed.
Hopefully this provides internet abusers with the lesson so desperately needed, not everything can be hidden on the internet. Once it’s posted, it’s out there forever and can’t be taken back regardless of how advanced your security measures are.