The Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699) was discussed in a House Judiciary Committee last week. The act would reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which unbelievably allows for text and files stored in the cloud to be subpoenaed by law enforcement authorities after they’re more than six months old without a judicial warrant issued for “probably cause.” Libraries are part of a larger pro-ECPA reform group, while entities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the FBI, and a group of U.S. prosecutors have sought to water down the bill.
The bill is currently the most heavily-backed legislation in Congress with 305 cosponsors to date. It has been held up in the Judiciary Committee for some time, as Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA6) has continued to have questions about whether agencies like the SEC should be exempted from a full warrant requirement and whether, if passed as now written, H.R. 699 could preclude Congress itself from being able to continue to subpoena documents without a warrant under its own investigatory authorities. The future of the bill is unclear; thus, advocacy for the importance of the Email Privacy Act and its Senate counterpart (S. 356) is important. For more information, see the District Dispatch.
The governor has met with state government leaders a few times in the few weeks. Key sticking points in budget talks have been reforming the pension system, term limits for lawmakers, and union collective bargaining rights. Lawmakers have reportedly agreed to shelve talk of changing the formula Illinois uses to fund public education (though many think it needs to be reformed to be more equitable). Estimates for when a budget will be passed range from January to April 2016.