January 13, 2015
The Daily Signal
Kelsey Harkness

Americans shouldn’t sacrifice their freedoms as a result of recent high-profile cybersecurity attacks, said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., today at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“A lot of the big government types try to use this as an excuse to come in and usurp more and more authority,” he said. “[But] if we give away our freedom to protect our freedom, what is it worth?”

From Sony Pictures to yesterday’s hacks on the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, cybersecurity is an increasing concern among policymakers.

Salmon, 56, has been a leader in that fight. For two years, he has pressured Congress to protect Americans from unwarranted law enforcement scrutiny in cyberspace.

In May 2014, Salmon introduced legislation with the support of Republicans and one Democratic lawmaker that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was written in 1986, before Gmail, iPhones and cloud servers existed. Such platforms have the capacity to store communications for extended periods of time.

To read your postal mail, the government generally needs a warrant that is issued by a neutral magistrate and is based on probable cause that it will provide evidence of a crime.

But under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, as it was written in 1986, to read the content of emails, text messages and photos stored on a server for more than 180 days, the government doesn’t need a warrant at all.

That grants government easy access to electronic communications on Gmail, iCloud, iPhones and the like.

Salmon’s updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act would limit the government’s ability to access these emails and other forms of electronic communications without a warrant, sending the 180-day rule “into oblivion.”

On Monday, he re-introduced his provisions and touted their importance today at Heritage Action’s 2015 Conservative Policy Summit.

Greg Safsten, a legislative assistant for Salmon, told The Daily Signal that he expects the effort to garner as much—if not more—support as it did last year.

“This issue has saturated both the left and right, and I think Republicans are going to want to take ownership of it sooner rather than later,” he said. “It continues to gain momentum.”

“We all want the bad guys to be apprehended,” said Salmon. “But we’re not willing to trade our freedom for security or a false sense of security.”

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