Lawmakers prodded over email privacy

House lawmakers are being asked to support a bill to place new privacy protections on people’s emails.

Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist and Katie McAuliffe, executive director of the organization’s Digital Liberty project, want members of Congress to back the Email Privacy Act as support gains momentum this week.

“The Email Privacy Act will overcome the 218 member threshold this week,” they wrote in a letter expected to be sent on Monday. “We encourage you to join fellow Representatives in co-sponsorship, if you have not done so already. Further, we encourage leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a recorded vote."

“Our Representatives should be on record and accountable to their constituencies, regarding support for the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution," they added.

The bill, from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows law enforcement officials to obtain emails and other communications without a warrant as long as they have been online for at least 180 days. Under the Email Privacy Act, the government would need to get a warrant before performing those searches.

The legislation currently has 216 cosponsors in the House, just two shy of a majority in the chamber.

Some of the strongest skepticism has come from federal agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has worried that the measure could limit their ability to conduct investigations.