This Week in Tech: Congress moves on email privacy bill

ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the panel's ranking member, indicated he would support the bill, which is co-sponsored by Leahy and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, police only need a subpoena, issued without a judge's approval, to read emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old.

Privacy advocates argue the law is out of date and that police should need a warrant to access all private online content, regardless of how old it is.

The House bill would require a warrant to access geolocation data in addition to emails and other online messages. Thursday's House hearing will focus on the privacy issues surrounding geolocation data.

In other tech policy news, the Senate is expected to vote as soon as Monday on legislation that would empower states to tax online purchases.

The proposal received 75 votes as a non-binding budget amendment last month and is expected to clear the Senate easily. But in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) says he plans to take his time scrutinizing the legislation.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday afternoon to scrutinize industry efforts to allow users to opt out of online tracking.

At a White House event in early 2012, a coalition of Internet companies said they would work together to voluntarily implement a Do Not Track option for users.

Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said he plans to use the hearing "to find out what is holding up the development of voluntary Do-Not-Track standards that should have been adopted at the end of last year.” He has introduced legislation that would mandate the feature.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a Thursday morning hearing on the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone service for low-income subscribers. Republicans have claimed the program is rife with fraud and abuse despite recent efforts by the FCC to tighten eligibility standards.

On Thursday, the House Homeland Security Committee's cybersecurity panel will hold a hearing focused on how to protect America's critical infrastructure while also safeguarding civil liberties. Witnesses have not yet been announced.

The Senate Commerce subcommittee on Communications will hold a hearing on Thursday morning to examine the state of wireless communication.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, will give a keynote at a luncheon hosted by the Media Institute on Monday. He is expected to discuss the FCC, spectrum issues and broadcasting.

RECENT ARTICLES

House approves cybersecurity bill in bipartisan vote

White House threatens to veto CISPA, citing privacy concerns

House panel approves Internet freedom bill

House votes to boost government cyber protection, cyber research

IRS denies searching emails without a warrant