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Who Doesn’t Want to Close the E-Mail Privacy Loophole?

Right now, law enforcement officials who want to access private e-mails more than 180 days old can do it legally without any oversight requirement, like obtaining a warrant. That’s because of a loophole in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, a bill that passed years before the invention of the World Wide Web and failed to anticipate the dramatic transformation in how people use technology to send messages to one another.

For years one of the ECPA’s co-authors, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has been trying to amend the law. His bill passed the Judiciary Committee in November 2012 and again in April 2013, but it hasn’t received a Senate floor vote. Now the best chance to advance the issue could come from the gridlocked House, where the ongoing national debate about privacy is scrambling standard partisan divisions.