IRS Heeds Udall's Call and Backs Down on Warrantless Searches of Americans' Communications

Statement

By:  Mark Udall
Date: April 16, 2013
Location: Unknown

Mark Udall welcomed comments today from Internal Revenue Service Acting Commissioner Steven Miller signaling that the agency will no longer pursue warrantless searches of Americans' emails and other digital communications. Udall criticized the IRS's surveillance policies last week, calling out the agency's position as "an affront not only to our system of checks and balances, but also to our fundamental right to privacy."

"I am glad the IRS has heeded my call and backed down from its belief that it can search Americans' private communications without a warrant. This is a victory for Americans everywhere and our Constitution," Udall said. "I look forward to seeing the IRS officially update its guidelines to adhere to our constitutional rights, explicitly providing for protection of Americans' electronic correspondence. Though oversight on this matter will continue, Congress must act to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to ensure that Americans' privacy rights won't be violated now or in the future. No government agency should be able to sidestep the Constitution and search Americans' emails or digital communications without a warrant. Make no mistake, I will continue to monitor this situation."

Miller told the Senate Finance Committee today that the IRS will not attempt to access Americans' private emails and other digital communications without a warrant. His comments marked a departure from the language of internal IRS documents revealed last week.

Udall has been a strong advocate for Americans' constitutional liberties, including fighting to strengthen federal privacy safeguards and congressional oversight over executive branch agencies and decisions. Udall also was part of the bipartisan group of senators who successfully pushed the White House to provide access to the Department of Justice opinions outlining the legal basis for the targeted killing of Americans.