Bipartisan group slams U.S. SEC for resisting email privacy reform

Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:36pm EDT
 
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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A coalition of liberals and conservatives is lashing out at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for pushing back against legislation that would force government agencies to get warrants before they access the email of people under investigation.

The group, Digital 4th, on Wednesday launched www.notwithoutawarrant.com, a website urging the public to lobby the White House to support sweeping changes to federal privacy laws proposed in Congress in 2013.

In a conference call with reporters, the group singled out the SEC for stalling the reforms. It also called on President Barack Obama to respond to a petition with more than 100,000 signatures in support of the bill, saying the SEC's opposition has caused the White House to ignore a groundswell of support.

"We do believe that the SEC and the other administrative agencies have been a major stumbling block to passing this legislation," said Chris Calabrese, the legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, a member of Digital 4th.

The White House did not have a comment on when or how it would respond to the petition.

"We continue to believe the Electronic Communications Privacy Act should be updated, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress on this important issue," White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

In a statement Wednesday, SEC Enforcement Director Andrew Ceresney said the legislation in its current form is not workable.

"Civil law enforcement agencies like the SEC aren't able to obtain the search warrants that the proposed legislation would require," he said. "Preserving access to evidence through (Internet service providers) for the SEC and other civil law enforcement agencies is critical to protect the American public from wrongdoers."   Continued...

 
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst