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Changes to Electronic Communications Privacy Act Could Let FBI into Your Email

How far can law enforcement dig into your search history? Changes to existing laws may soon permit a deeper dive than is currently allowed.

The Obama administration wants to grant the FBI access to the internet search histories of private citizens. The proposed amendment to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) is touted as an effort to adhere to the intent of the original law, but entities in the tech industry and those concerned with matters of privacy have their concerns.

Currently, law enforcement can obtain a history of websites visited and time spent on them through a National Security Letter (NSL), which can be obtained without going through a judge. Under the proposed amendment, the FBI would be able to expand the scope of what an NSL can provide. This means they will be able acquire more intimate knowledge such as access to the particulars of the web pages viewed, emails, and other potentially very personal data.

The proposed expanded scope of NSL's is part of a larger effort to update the ECPA, including a measure that would require warrants to search any emails. Privacy advocates and tech companies are likely to remove their support if the NSL provision stands.

The digital age makes everyone more susceptible to violations of privacy. When such events occur in conjunction with an accusation of criminal misconduct, you need a criminal defense attorney who will defend your rights under the law. In the event of any criminal charges, time is of the essence. The accused, or the convicted, should not delay in seeking legal advice. An experienced attorney such as Russell Spatz can represent you in your case, whether it goes to trial or you've already been convicted, and help ensure that your rights are not violated.


Nakashima, Ellen. "FBI Wants Access to Internet Browser History without a Warrant in Terrorism and Spy Cases." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 06 June 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

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