Studer: Support bill preventing warrantless searches


Samuel Studer
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A bill in Congress that would require police to get a warrant before they are able to get emails and other information that Americans have on the web was filed this week. The proposal, which was introduced by Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., stipulates that it would not matter how long the email was or the type of medium it employed. This bill has more than 300 supporters, telling us that there is a good chance that this bill will pass in the House.

Several senators from numerous states have proposed similar bills. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have proposed something similar and have the support of 24 other senators. According to the New York Times, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said his panel would look at the proposal in March. Right now, the current law agencies have few instances in which they need to get a warrant, mainly if they want to access information stored on servers of large corporations.

The current law was written in 1986, when it might have made sense. People did not have much access to computers. Much has changed since this time. Every American now has a computer and sends thousands of emails a week. We also store a lot of personal information online through Facebook, Google, and other sources.

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Supporters of the bill say that a warrant will not be a major barrier for officials; warrants are easily awarded by judges all over the country. Judges just want to see that they are probable cause for the information that law-enforcement agencies are looking for.

Critics, on the other hand, say that this could lead to not guilty verdicts. For example, if there is Facebook video that shows guilt, law-enforcement officials must get warrants before they can do anything, and in that time, the information could get deleted. Even supporters want to put in a clause that would allow only a subpoena needed to get access to information from government agencies.

I feel this bill can help make a difference in the society that we live in. Every day, we share personal information on the web and officials should be required to have a warrant. Police officers cannot just walk into my home without a warrant, and they should not be able to access my information without cause. We have documents and files that are just as important on the web as what we have sitting at home.

As the presidential election gets closer, people will pay less attention to this bill. It is extremely important that we focus on trying to get this bill passed. We have the right to share what we want on the Internet, and it should be protected. Right now, this is not the case. Nobody should have access to our information unless a crime has been committed. It is important the law reflect how we use the Internet today.

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