Lawmakers look to curb e-mail eavesdropping

Members of House of Representatives hope to prevent repeat of court decision acquitting man accused of e-mail interception.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
Four members of the U.S. House of Representatives are hoping to prevent a repeat of a recent court decision acquitting a man accused of e-mail interception. In that case, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals that Bradford Councilman, a former executive for an online bookseller, did not violate federal wiretap laws by allegedly snooping on e-mail that Amazon.com sent to customers through accounts Councilman provided.

Banning that behavior is necessary "to modernize America's privacy laws," said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., who is cosponsoring the measure with Roscoe Bartlett, R-Mass., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and William Delahunt, D-Mass. Their E-Mail Privacy Act, introduced Friday, would alter current laws to outlaw that form of e-mail eavesdropping. Their bill says Internet providers could intercept e-mail only "to the extent the access is a necessary incident to the rendition of the service, the protection of the rights or property of the provider of that service" or to honor a government request.