Google calls on U.S. Senate to pass bill requiring warrants for government email snooping

Google’s head of information security on Feb. 6 called on U.S. senators to follow the lead of their House of Representatives colleagues and pass a bill that requires law enforcement to get a warrant before forcing tech firms such as Google to hand over users’ emails.

The blog post from Google’s Richard Salgado followed a voice vote earlier in the day in the House that approved the Email Privacy Act. The House passed the same bipartisan bill last year, but it fizzled out in the Senate, “partly at the hands of Trump-appointed attorney general and then-Alabama-Senator Jeff Sessions,” according to TechCrunch.

Under existing law, the feds need no warrant to compel access to emails that are at least 180 days old and stored on third-party servers. The bill to go before the Senate would impose a requirement for a warrant.

Salgado urged the Senate to jump on board a “historic opportunity to shepherd this landmark reform toward enactment.”

“While there are disagreements about other aspects of surveillance reform, there is no disagreement that emails and electronic content deserve Fourth Amendment protections,” Salgado wrote, perhaps optimistically.

With Sessions poised to give up his Senate seat to become U.S. Attorney General, “the Email Privacy Act may find less friction in the Senate,” according to TechCrunch.

Google has since 2010 testified four times before Congress in support of the warrant requirement, Salgado wrote.

The House vote came as privacy advocates worry about President Donald Trump’s “ability to expand government spying,” Reuters reported Feb. 6. “The Republican campaigned on a ‘law and order’ platform that included suggestions he may want to place some mosques in the United States under surveillance and maintain a national database on Muslims,” according to Reuters.

 

Photo: A Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Connie Zhou/Google via AP)

 

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