Week ahead: Senate tries again on email privacy

The Senate Judiciary Committee is taking another stab at passing email privacy legislation that got held up by a series of controversial amendments last month.

The legislation is on the committee calendar for Thursday, along with two other bills. The email privacy bill would ensure that law enforcement obtains a warrant before forcing a technology company to hand over a customer's emails, no matter how old the communications.

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In April, the House approved a similar bill by unanimous consent. And the Senate committee planned to take up nearly identical language last month. But a series of amendments filed the night ahead of the vote caused the sponsors of the bill to seek a delay as they worked out differences.

The state of negotiations is unclear, since most lawmakers have been in their home states for the Memorial Day recess.

The most worrisome amendment was filed by Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards Democrats to make pitch Friday for pathway to citizenship in spending bill Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime MORE (R-Texas). The Senate's No. 2 Republican offered a proposal to expand the government's use of National Security Letters, a search tool that gives the FBI power to compel private institutions to disclose information. The amendment would allow law enforcement to obtain email records -- including name, address, phone number, login history and IP address -- without a warrant if they are relevant to a terror or intelligence investigation.

Another amendment offered by Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE (R-Ala.) would force technology companies to hand over a customer's emails without a warrant in an emergency, when delay could cause "danger of death or serious physical injury." Technology companies have lobbied hard against the provision, saying the current voluntary language works well in practice.

On the other end of the Capitol, on Thursday, the House Oversight Committee is digging into the Census Bureau's plan for the 2020 count. The bureau has planned a number of IT updates, including an online response option, to reduce costs by billions of dollars. The Government Accountability Office has made a number of recommendations to speed up testing.

On Monday, the Republican National Committee is reportedly holding a meeting with lobbyists to discuss tech policy in the party platform. Per Politico, attendees include the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Consumer Technology Association, and the software trade group BSA.

Outside of Washington, many tech observers will be watching the California primary results on Tuesday. Candidates from both parties have been making swings through the state, including a trip to Silicon Valley by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE. Trump has the nomination sealed up, and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE is hoping to increase her delegate lead over Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE, though polls there have narrowed recently.

 

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