November 20, 2012

Does the US Senate Want to Read Your E-mail?


I know what you are thinking. What if the government hacks into my e-mail? Will they discover you have been having an illicit affair with a married man? Will they learn that you have a tendency to send links to your favorite pornographic movies to your ex? Could they discover that you are the kind of person who does NOT pass along forwards from your great aunt, even though you know it could bring fourteen years of bad luck to you and your family?!

But, a better question is this: will the government be able to read my e-mail (as boring and SPAM-filled as it may be) without a warrant? Well, the good news is, even though CNET reported that a bill up for vote in the Senate next week will not allow the government to do so, at least according to one of the Senators behind the legislation.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Now a former version of the bill would have allowed more than 22 agencies, from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, to access your e-mail, as well as your Google Docs, Facebook posts, Twitter messages and more without a warrant, and it would have let the FBI and Homeland Security get full access to your Internet accounts without your knowledge.

I just hope the government is not interested in my love life (not that there is much to read!)

Fortunately, according to a spokesperson for Senator Patrick Leahy, one of the legislators behind the bill, those powers are not in the current draft of the piece of legislation. Leahy’s office says that the bill "provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by... requiring that the government obtain a search warrant." 

Either way, we’ll get to learn the full truth about the bill next week, when the Senate votes on it and the public gets to see its contents. Until then, it’s probably a good idea to start deleting those dirty jokes from grandma and illicit tweets to your former lovers…




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli



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