The US Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation requiring police to obtain a search warrant before reviewing a person's emails or other electronic communications.
The bill will move to the full Senate for its next vote, according to the Associated Press. The legislation will make it slightly more difficult for the government to access content from consumers' emails and private files from Google, Yahoo and other internet providers. Under the current law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a warrant is only needed for emails less than six months old.
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Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont called the current law "anachronistic," the AP continued. He said that Americans "face even greater threats to their digital privacy, as we witness the explosion of new technologies and the expansion of the government's surveillance powers."
The updated law will require a judge to sign off on a warrant to gain access to any email from any time period from a third-party provider, reported Fox News. It will also eliminate the six-month rule.
"[When the current law was drafted,] no one could have imagined that emails would be stored electronically for years or envisioned the many new threats to privacy in cyberspace," Leahy said to Fox News. "That is why I am working to update this law to reflect the realities of our time and to better protect privacy in the digital age."
The bill's passing comes just a few weeks after the resignation of David Petraeus as the head of the CIA over an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, noted The Record. The case brought to light how easy it is for federal agents to access people's email accounts.