Column: Protecting Our Citizens’ Privacy
The 21st Century ushered in striking technological improvements that have enhanced and changed so many parts of our lives. Technological advancements in the past half-century have allowed for greater collaboration, communication and connectivity across all aspects of life.
However, as our technology has advanced, and more of our lives and business depend on new tools, like email and smartphones, Congress and our Nation’s laws have lagged behind.
Right now, unbelievably, the federal government has the legal authority to invade the privacy of millions of Americans by accessing our emails without any legal warrant. Currently, the law allows for the government to access emails older than 180 days without being granted a probable cause warrant from a judge.
This policy is both outdated and intrusive. As technology has evolved, so too should our laws. It simply makes no sense to have 21st Century technologies governed by 20th Century legislation.
That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in the House in unanimously passing the Email Privacy Act last month. This bill will amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to prohibit email providers from knowingly divulging contents of private email messages to the government. The bill will also require the government to obtain a court warrant before having email providers, such as Google or Yahoo, disclose the contents of emails.
I believe that U.S. law enforcement agencies must combat criminal activity thoughtfully and within the boundaries of the law, so as to ensure that individuals’ freedoms and privacy are never compromised and the principles of our Constitution are always upheld.
As Maine’s 2nd District Congressman, I will continue to keep the federal government in check and protect our citizens’ privacy rights.