Paul offers bill to protect privacy of electronic communications

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a bill Thursday that would extend Fourth Amendment rights to electronic communications.

“In today’s high-tech world, we must ensure that all forms of communication are protected,” Paul said. “Yet government has eroded protecting the Fourth Amendment over the past few decades, especially when applied to electronic communications and third party providers.”

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The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure and requires that warrants only be issued when there is probable cause of wrongdoing.

Paul's Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, S. 1037, would require specific warrants granted by judges in order to obtain electronic communications.

Paul said that lawmakers have passed laws that “decimate” the Fourth Amendment by allowing communications controlled by a third party, such as email and bank records, to be used in investigations without notifying the person using the service.

“Congress has passed a variety of laws that decimate our Fourth Amendment protections,” Paul said. “In effect, it means that Americans can only count on Fourth Amendment protections if they don’t use email, cellphones, the Internet, credit cards, libraries, banks or other forms of modern finance and communications.

“Basic constitutional rights should not be invalidated by carrying out basic, day-to-day functions in a technologically advanced world, and this bill will provide much needed clarity and reassert Fourth Amendment protections for records held by third parties.”