Advocates press Obama on warrantless searches

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President Barack Obama needs to take a stand on whether or not the government should be able to get someone’s emails without a warrant, a coalition of business and privacy advocates said.

In a letter sent to the White House, dozens of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce blamed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the Administration’s reticence on the issue.

“You have a rare opportunity to work with Congress to pass legislation that would advance the rights of almost every American,” the groups wrote. “Please act now to support meaningful privacy reform.”

Under terms of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), emails, texts, photos and other data stored online can be searched by law enforcement without a warrant as long as they have been in the cloud for at least 180 days. The law was written in 1986, when dial-up Internet was still cutting-edge technology, and is deeply in need of an update, advocates say.

A reform bill in the House from Reps Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO) has 205 co-sponsors, but the White House has yet to respond to a November petition to take sides on the issue.

Advocates press Obama on warrantless searches