Last month we published a blog post that detailed how that the U.S. government is currently capturing and storing all your emails in huge data warehouses and can use it against you whenever they feel like it.
Just a few weeks ago, lawmakers removed an important provision to the Video Privacy Protection Act that would have required the government to seek a warrant before accessing these emails.
A Brief Background of the Video Privacy Protection Act
The Video Privacy Protection Act was created in 1988 in response to Robert Bork’s failed Supreme Court nomination in which his video rental history came into question. The Act deemed that people’s video rental history was private and confidential, and that this information could only be published with the individual’s expressed consent.
The revamped Video Privacy Protection Act (and no, we’re not joking) allows Facebook users to have their timelines updated automatically with their recently watched videos from Netflix.
Naturally, Facebook and Netflix really liked this.
This loss of assumed privacy is bad enough, but what Congress did next is even worse.
Spying on Your Email without a Warrant: Completely Legal!
As part of this package, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended digital privacy protections which would require the government to get a warrant before accessing your email and other information.
Right now, the government can spy on your email without a warrant as long as it’s been stored online for more than 180 days and the government can demonstrate that they have “reasonable grounds to believe” that the information could be helpful in an investigation.
For some reason, this information was removed at the last minute before the package was signed by President Obama. Apparently there is little support for it in Congress and the President Obama’s administration.
What’s worse is that very few people even know about this. Once again, the needs of big business trump the importance of our privacy.