Apple-supported US Email Privacy Act passes unanimous House vote, with compromises

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    Apple-supported US Email Privacy Act passes unanimous House vote, with compromises




    The U.S. House of Representatives has voted unanimously to pass the Email Privacy Act, a bill that has the backing of a coalition of major technology businesses including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

    To become law the bill must still pass through the Senate, and then be signed by the President, TechCrunch noted. The legislation updates 1986's Electronic Communications Privacy Act, officially requiring federal agencies to get a search warrant for email over 180 days old. So far agencies have only needed a subpoena, something much easier to obtain.

    The current version of the bill is weakened from a previous draft, which would've required that agencies disclose a warrant to a targeted individual within 10 days, or three days if the warrant was connected to a government entity.

    The bill is of special interest to tech corporations like Apple, which are increasingly banking their reputation and future sales on promises of privacy. The trend dates back to 2013, when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent ot the NSA's mass surveillance programs including "PRISM," which involved the participation (willing or unwilling) of major tech firms like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. All of those firms initially denied their involvement, despite evidence.

    Apple has adopted perhaps the most aggressive stance, for example actively challenging requests to help unlock iPhones in cases where Apple would be forced to undermine its own encryption. The company's effort to bring cloud infrastructure in-house may even be motivated by worries about backdoors.





    4-28-16

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