Senators propose bipartisan bill to stop warrantless searches of electronics

(AP Photo)

While the Senate could not come to consensus on health care last week, they did show bipartisanship when Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced a bill that would stop law enforcement from conducting warrantless searches of people’s electronics.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Modernization Act updates the current statutes saying this legislation is long overdue.

“They (Americans) don’t believe the government should be able to always know where you are just because you are carrying a cell phone. It is long past time that Congress updated our federal laws to better protect Americans’ privacy,” Lee said.

Democratic Senator Leahy who is co-sponsoring the bill agreed with Lee saying that the current laws are “woefully out of date and make no sense in the modern world.”

“Americans expect and deserve strong, meaningful protections for their emails, texts, photos, location information and documents stored in the cloud. It’s time for Congress to enact broad reforms to ECPA and other privacy laws to bring these laws into the 21st Century,” Leahy said.

The duo sponsored a bill similar in 2015 when they introduced the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act of 2015 designed to enhance online privacy. That legislation did not pass under the previous administration.

This modified proposed legislation introduced Thursday is designed to beef up protections for Americans privacy and instate new requirements for law enforcement when conducting searches on people and their devices.  If passed this regulation would require law enforcement to follow strict procedures when interested in searching people’s devices. One of the requirements is that law enforcement must secure a warrant when obtaining people’s location.

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