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Lawmakers Launch Epic Tweetfest for Email Privacy Overhaul

Remember when?

Screengrab from Twitter by Re/code

A small group of lawmakers launched a tweetstorm Wednesday to highlight the need for Congress to finally update a privacy law that currently allows government agencies to obtain emails and other cloud-based communications without a warrant.

Anchored by Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas, the lawmakers spent the day tweeting about what was happening back in 1986, the last time Congress updated the law.

On Wednesday, the lawmakers reintroduced a pair of bills in the House and Senate aimed at updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act so that it better protects Americans at a time when much of our communications are stored in cloud-based data centers. The legislation was also debated last session but died without action.

Basically, the legislation makes it clear that government agencies need to obtain a warrant before they look at Americans’ email or other online communications.

The House legislation already has bipartisan support, with 228 co-sponsors. In the Senate, the legislation is being championed by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Mike Lee, the Utah Republican, but so far has only six co-sponsors. However, broad support from the tech industry and privacy advocates could help push the legislation over the finish line this year.

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