It seems Senator Patrick Leahy may finally get his wish when Congress resumes session on January 3. Despite the Senate Judiciary Committee passing a package of video and electronic privacy measures in late November, it did not include the provisions that would require all law enforcement to obtain a warrant to access a citizen's email traffic. As BuzzFeed reports:
Privacy activists for years have sought to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which governs the ability of law enforcement agencies to access private citizens records. Although warrants are required for any number of digital records, Congress has never passed legislation requiring a warrant to review or monitor a citizens’ email traffic, and law enforcement authorities regularly demand access to emails via subpoena, without judicial review ... While these types of bills are generally bipartisan, they can be more difficult to move since neither party’s political apparatus are generally inclined to engage on them.
“Changes to electronic privacy cannot happen piecemeal,” Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “If we are to achieve true reform—which means getting full protection for Americans' inboxes and private communication—we cannot give priority to special interests.”