New Bill Would Update Digital Privacy Law

A bill introduced in the Senate on Tuesday would require law enforcement to get a search warrant before obtaining old data like emails stored on servers — a major update to U.S. digital-privacy laws.

The bill, by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), would amend a 1986 law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which extended restrictions on government wiretaps to data transmissions as well as phone calls.

Critics of the earlier law say it has become outdated and doesn’t adequately address new technology like geolocation and long-term data storage.

“Today, this law is significantly outdated and out-paced by rapid changes in technology and the changing mission of our law enforcement agencies after September 11,” said Sen. Leahy, who also authored the 1986 law.

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