Civil Liberties

Warrant Requirement for Email Searches Stripped From Federal Legislation

Fighting snoopiness is an uphill battle


The Senate late Thursday forwarded legislation to President Barack Obama granting the public the right to automatically display on their Facebook feeds what they're watching on Netflix. While lawmakers were caving to special interests, however, they cut from the legislative package language requiring the authorities to get a warrant to read your e-mail or other data stored in the cloud.

Instead of protecting privacy, the Senate tinkered with the Video Privacy Protection Act, which outlaws the disclosure of video rentals unless the consumer gives consent, on a rental-by-rental basis. That prohibits Netflix customers from allowing their Facebook streams to automatically update with information about the movies they are viewing, though Spotify and other online music-streaming customers can consent to the automatic publication on Facebook of the songs they're listening to.