There’s not a lack of online privacy protection bills floating around Congress at the moment, but it can’t hurt to have one more.
On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul introduced the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, or S. 1037, to the Senate. Like other bills before it, the proposed legislation aims to require law enforcement to obtain warrants when accessing any kind of personal information online, including email, chat logs, online bank accounts and more.
Paul said that his bill will “reassert Fourth Amendment protections” online:
“Congress has passed a variety of laws that decimate our Fourth Amendment protections. In effect, it means that Americans can only count on Fourth Amendment protections if they don’t use email, cellphones, the Internet, credit cards, libraries, banks or other forms of modern finance and communications.
Basic constitutional rights should not be invalidated by carrying out basic, day-to-day functions in a technologically advanced world, and this bill will provide much needed clarity and reassert Fourth Amendment protections for records held by third parties.”
Paul’s bill enters the Senate only a month after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013. Unlike Leahy’s bill, however, Paul’s bill would ensure all online data held by third parties is protected by the Fourth Amendment.
In a perfect world, Paul’s bill would join forces with Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act to create powerful Fourth Amendment protections for all.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where Congress is content to put a bandaid on a bullet wound. In other words, we’re probably going to get a bill that requires a warrant when obtaining emails, but only under very limited circumstances. The majority of your personal data stored online would still be subject to warrantless searches.[h/t: The Hill]