Overnight Tech: Law enforcement digs in against email privacy bill

LEDE: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and law enforcement officials aren't budging from their long-held warnings over an email privacy bill aimed at updating a three-decades-old law. 

Their concerns have helped prevent the bill from moving out of committee despite having supermajority support in the House for the last two Congresses. 


The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday is slated to hear testimony on the bill from the SEC, a group representing U.S. attorneys and the FBI. They will highlight their reservations in prepared statements. Advocates for the bill will also be there, including Google, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Red Branch Consulting. 

The legislation would close a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that lets the government use a subpoena, rather than a warrant, to force companies such as Google and other service providers to hand over customers' electronic communications if the communications are more than 180 days old.

But law enforcement wants a more robust emergency exception and civil agencies, which are unable to obtain criminal warrants, want their own carve out. 

POLL SHOWS BROAD SUPPORT: A Vox Populi Poll released Monday found that 77 percent of voters believe the government should be required to get a warrant before obtaining access to emails, photos or other documents stored online. The poll was commissioned by the Digital 4th Coalition, which supports reform. 

HOUSE E&C PANEL WILL MARK UP 'DIG ONCE:' The Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up legislation including ranking member Anna Eshoo's (D-Calif.) "dig once" bill, mandating that some federally-funded highway projects include broadband conduit. They will also mark up the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act. 

JUDICIARY LEADERS DEFEND USA FREEDOM ACT: Bipartisan leaders of the House Judiciary Committee said the country "would be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks" without the USA Freedom Act -- a key portion of which went live over the weekend to end the government's bulk collection and storage of U.S. phone records. The records will instead be stored with providers. 

"The horrific terrorist attacks in Paris are a stark reminder that we must always remain vigilant against the threats we face," the leaders wrote in a statement. "The USA Freedom Act gives the intelligence community the resources needed to keep us safe and closes a loophole that allowed terrorists to go dark once they enter the U.S. Without the USA Freedom Act, our country would be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks."

GAG ORDER ON NATIONAL SECURITY LETTER LIFTED: A decade-old lawsuit against the federal government has finally revealed the information law enforcement can compel Internet companies to turn over as part of a National Security Letter (NSL). The government requests for information usually come with a gag order, preventing the recipient from publicly disclosing what information was turned over. The NSL served to Nicholas Merrill of Calyx Internet Access asked for a customer's complete web browsing history, IP address and records of all online purchases. During the course of the lawsuit, the FBI also revealed it has the authority to obtain cell-site location information, but does not request the information as a matter of policy.

TEXT 1 TO WHIP: The Hill's Scott Wong detailed how the Democratic House whip operations functions over text message. The caucus has been employing an email-based system since 2011, but the emails were sometimes getting ignored. Leaders started developing a text-message system after realizing lawmakers respond much more quickly to text messages. 

ONLINE SHOPPERS ARE THE NEW NORM: More people shopped online than in a store during the Black Friday weekend, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. The Wall Street Journal reported customers spent $4.45 billion online Thursday and Friday -- a 14 percent increase from last year. 


At 10 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. 

At 10:15, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on mobile payments.

At 5 p.m., Intel is holding an event on "paying down the cybersecurity debt."


Republican Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (Ky.) is taking issue with a $450,000 federal grant for a low-budget video game aimed at teaching climate change science to high schoolers. 

A major court decision that will determine the fate of new Internet regulations could be written by the same judge who struck down earlier rules only a year ago.

Amazon is giving people a glimpse at its much-hyped drone delivery program.

Target's website was downed by a flood of shoppers seeking deep discounts on Cyber Monday.

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