Tech companies warn senators not to 'weaken' email privacy bill

Tech companies warn senators not to 'weaken' email privacy bill
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The largest names in the tech industry are pressing senators to approve the House's widely supported email privacy bill without changes. 

The letter from nearly 70 prominent tech companies and advocates urges the Senate to approve the "carefully negotiated compromise" immediately and without any amendments to "weaken" the legislation. 

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The letter comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on reform during a Thursday markup. The committee already plans to take up the exact text of the House bill, in the form of a substitute amendment. 

Tuesday's letter was signed by Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Snapchat, Twitter, Yahoo and dozens of others. 

There were initial question on what version of reform the Senate panel would approve, since there are minor differences between the House and Senate bills. 

Advocates had pressed the upper chamber to simply take up the House version, which was approved on a 419-0 vote last month after privacy advocates agreed to a number of small amendments in order to advance the bill. 

Privacy advocates have pushed reform for years, and passage of identical bills in the House and Senate would remove another roadblock in turning the legislation into law. 

The bill itself would ensure that law enforcement receive a warrant before forcing technology companies to hand over a customer's emails or other electronic communications, no matter how old they are. To do that, it would remove a loophole that allows law enforcement to use just a subpoena — rather than a warrant — to obtain that information from a technology company. 

The Justice Department and a number of civil agencies have not used that subpoena loophole in years following a 2010 court decision that cast doubt on the constitutionality of that provision. But advocates have sought to wipe the provision from the books.