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Email privacy won't hinder police

Legal experts in the United States have warned that Senate legislation intended to protect the privacy of electronic communications will not keep law enforcement agencies from combing through in-boxes if they believe a crime has been committed.

The legislation, which the Senate Judiciary Committee is due to consider, would update a 26-year-old law by requiring police to secure a search warrant from a judge before accessing the content of all emails and other private information from Google, Yahoo and other internet providers.

Under the current US law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a warrant is needed only for emails less than six months old.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Democratic committee chairman, said the change would "remedy the erosion of the public's privacy rights under the rapid advances of technology."

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