Legislation Addresses Privacy Loopholes

by Kaley LaQuea
Two pieces of legislation proposed this year, both focused on data security, aim to re-spark the conversation surrounding what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy for U.S. citizens.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, representative for the 2nd District of Colorado, cosponsored H.R. 1899 — the Protecting Data at the Border Act, and H.R. 387 — the Email Privacy Act.
The bipartisan initiatives hone in on two data search statutes that sponsors say are outdated and represent privacy violations.
The Protecting Data at the Border Act aims to close a loophole, the “border search exception,” which stipulates that the Fourth Amendment protections do not apply to data and devices at national borders.
A 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Riley v. California, asserted that a data search of information stored on digital devices is significantly different than a search of physical items. The ruling rejected the notion that cell phone searches are “materially indistinguishable” from the same type of search of physical belongings, arguing “that is like saying a ride on horseback is materially indistinguishable from a flight to the moon … Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet or a purse.”