Author of email privacy bill signs off on deal

Author of email privacy bill signs off on deal
© Greg Nash

Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE has signed off on a series of changes to his widely supported legislation that would ensure the government obtains a warrant before forcing a technology company to hand over a customer's emails. 

“We believe a deal is done,” the Kansas Republican's office said of his bill to close a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act.


Earlier in the day, Yoder's office said there was an agreement in principle and the two sides were working out minor technical details.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the other lead co-sponsor, said he was in a good place after working with privacy groups and other members on the language. 

“Nothing is final ’til it is final,” Polis told The Hill. “So obviously we want to see what they actually circulate at the markup. But right now, I as one of the initial authors, am in a good place, and feel there has been a good faith negotiation, and the working language would address the glaring loophole in American’s privacy.”

After years of delay, the bill, which is co-sponsored by more than 300 members, is moving to a Wednesday vote in the Judiciary Committee. Movement past that is uncertain in a tight election-year schedule. 

Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (R-Va.) on Friday had circulated a substitute amendment, replacing the the original Yoder-Polis bill. In the past, privacy advocates blamed Goodlatte for dragging his feet on bringing up the bill due to law enforcement and executive branch concerns. 

The key warrant protections remain intact in Goodlatte's substitute, but it contained a number of difference. The largest change removed a provision that would have required the government to quickly notify customers after obtaining their emails from a provider. 

Goodlatte’s substitute text was obtained Friday, but there was expected to be minor changes before it was finalized. 

Yoder and Polis do not actually sit on the Judiciary Committee, but their bill is co-sponsored by a majority of committee members.

— Updated at 5:35 p.m.