WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) issued the following statement upon passage of H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act:
“For far too long, it has been too easy for the American government to snoop on law-abiding Americans,” Westerman said. “The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 was written in a time before emails and text messages became dominant forms of electronic communication. Passage of H.R. 699 will protect the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans and create a uniform warrant standard for all law enforcement seeking access to private electronic communications. This bill strikes the right balance between privacy and security.”
According to the House Judiciary Committee, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 was passed to provide a fair balance between the privacy expectations of American citizens and the legitimate needs of law enforcement agencies. The law sets forth a system to protect the privacy rights of customers and subscribers of computer network service providers and governs requests to obtain stored content, records, or other information, which includes stored emails, text or instant messages, documents, videos, or sound recordings stored in the cloud. ECPA applies not only to federal criminal investigations and prosecutions, but to state and local investigations and prosecutions, public safety requests, and civil investigations in which stored communications of these types of information are sought.
Westerman, along with Congressmen French Hill (AR-02) and Steve Womack (AR-03), co-sponsored H.R. 699.