National News

Nov 29, 2012 5:43 AM by Associated Press

Greater email privacy won't hinder law enforcement

WASHINGTON (AP) - Legal experts say Senate legislation billed as a major step forward in protecting the privacy of electronic communications won't keep law enforcement agencies from combing through inboxes if they believe a crime has been committed.

The legislation, which the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider today, would update a 26-year-old law by requiring police to secure a search warrant from a judge before accessing the content of all emails and other private information from Google, Yahoo and other Internet providers. Under the current law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a warrant is needed only for emails less than 6 months old.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Democratic committee chairman, says the change would "remedy the erosion of the public's privacy rights under the rapid advances of technology."

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