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Email Search Warrant Provision Added to Spending Bill
Posted at 3:38 p.m. on June 25
Among the 12 annual spending bills that fund the federal government, the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill is generally one of the more contentious. But during a markup of the House’s fiscal 2015 version, there wasn’t any fight when it came to an amendment targeting a law that allows federal agencies to obtain emails older than 180 days without a search warrant.
The amendment, offered by Kansas Republican Kevin Yoder would bar money in the bill (which applies only to fiscal 2015 and covers certain agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service) from being used to require email service providers to disclose contents of customer emails without a warrant. The panel adopted it by voice vote during Wednesday’s markup.
Under current law, emails 180 days old or fewer need a search warrant, while older emails can be obtained with a subpoena.
That issue was a more “egregious abuse” of civil liberties and the Constitution than the National Security Administration’s mass surveillance activities, Yoder said.
The chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction, Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., as well as the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat Jose E. Serrano, D-N.Y., both said they supported the amendment.
The panel adopted an amendment by Yoder on the issue last year too, but it wasn’t enacted into law. Yoder has a separate bill on the matter which recently hit the 218 mark of having a majority of House members co-sponsor the bill (it now has 220 co-sponsors). The Senate Judiciary Committee approved its own version of the stand-alone bill both in 2012 and 2013, but it hasn’t advanced.
Corrected June 25, 6:32 p.m.
This post has been corrected to reflect that Yoder is from Kansas .