Utah Sen. Lee sponsors email privacy bill
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Washington • Sen. Mike Lee is reaching across the aisle to run a bill that amps up existing Internet privacy protections, with a focus on guarding emails.

Lee, R-Utah, is co-sponsoring a bill led by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. that takes into account the way most Americans operate in a digital world linking their email address to bank accounts and online stores — a practice that didn't exist when the current law was drafted in 1986. Leahy was also an original sponsor of that law.

"Today, we use our email accounts as digital filing cabinets, where we store many of the personal documents and sensitive information," Lee said. "This bill takes an essential step toward ensuring that the private life of Americans remains private."

The bill would require investigators to get a search warrant to access individual's emails, including a provision requiring the government to notify people that their accounts are being monitored within 10 days.

"Senator Lee and I understand that protecting Americans' privacy rights is something that is important to all Americans, regardless of political party or ideology," Leahy said.

Lee and Leahy, who members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also recently teamed up to push the Obama administration on releasing a Department of Justice memo that outlines the legal basis for targeting American citizens suspected to be terrorists with drone strikes.

eandrews@sltrib.com