By Bill Maher
Here's something I bet you didn't know: police do not have to obtain a warrant before reading your emails, your Facebook messages, or any of the other forms of electronic communication you use daily. It's true. That's because they're working off an old law called the Electronics Communication Privacy Act, which has been the law since 1986. About ten years before people even knew what email was.
Yes, the law we're still working off says police only need to obtain a subpoena to read your emails, provided you've opened them or left unopened for more than 180 days. And you can get a subpoena without a judge's approval.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has been trying to rewrite this law for a couple years to make it so that the police have to treat electronic communications just like they would a letter they seized from your home -- they'd have to get a warrant to look at it. Really. It's right there in the 4th Amendment.
It seems like this would be a no-brainer and the sensible thing to do. However, Leahy has faced quiet resistance to changing the law for years. Because getting a warrant is a pain. And also what the Constitution demands. What do you think we are, Constitutional Conservatives?
Well, guess what? Suddenly, after a couple years of going nowhere, it looks like Leahy's bill could pass. For those too young to remember, "passing a bill" is where a majority in Congress votes for something and then the president can sign it into law.
And why? Because with all the news about the NSA spying on us, suddenly people are interested in government overreach again. And now Leahy's bill has a co-sponsor in Republican Mike Lee of Utah, and apparently a filibuster proof majority.
Hey, thanks, Edward Snowden!