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Government Surveillance

SEC Wants New Authority to Access Emails But New Powers Would Pose Serious Risks if Granted

The Securities and Exchange Commission is objecting to a long-overdue reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The SEC is arguing that civil regulators, instead of continuing to serve subpoenas on the targets of their investigations, as they traditionally have done, should have the power to obtain documents directly from Internet companies providing storage services on behalf of their customers.

However, the sole case the SEC cited to support this argument actually shows that the need for new authority is greatly overstated, if not totally unjustified. Indeed, the case cited by the SEC illustrates precisely the risk of indiscriminate production of personal emails that we have warned about.