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House backs bill bolstering privacy of old emails

WASHINGTON — The House has used a rare show of unanimity to approve legislation requiring the government to get a warrant if it wants people’s older emails.

The legislation would require federal agencies to get a warrant before they can force an email service provider like Google to provide access to data over 180 days old.

Also covered would be electronic documents like stored videos, text messages and photos.

The bill updates a three-decade-old law enacted when the use of email was rare. Under it, older emails are considered abandoned and allows government access without a warrant.

The House approved the bill Wednesday by 419-0. Its top sponsors are Kansas Republican Kevin Yoder and Colorado Democrat Jared Polis.

A similar, bipartisan Senate bill has yet to advance there.

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