The bill as-is won’t make everyone happy. Amendments to the act would remove the requirement for a warrant against the target of an investigation; it’d only require serving a warrant to the email host. Subjects wouldn’t necessarily realize that a search is taking place. That’s not enough to deter tech companies supporting the bill (including Facebook and Microsoft), but it’s clearly a compromise. Also, the Justice Department has claimed that the 180-day distinction is arbitrary. If you need a warrant for an ancient message, it argued, you should need a warrant for something new.

With that in mind, the Email Privacy Act is still better than what the US has today. Right now, the feds only need a subpoena to get communications — they’re not subject to the same judicial monitoring as they are with warrants. The would-be law could reduce the chances that investigators collect more information than they need, and keep your conversations under wraps unless there’s good cause to suggest that something illegal took place.

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