Who We Are

Digital 4th is a bipartisan coalition dedicated to reforming and modernizing our country’s 4th Amendment privacy rights.

Our members are:

  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)
  • The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT)
  • Heritage Action for America

Our Mission

Digital 4th is dedicated to updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). This outdated law does not reflect the reality of today’s world. Whether your information is stored online, in the cloud, or in a file cabinet, government officials must undergo the same search warrant process to access it. We also support updating ECPA legislation to provide the same, consistent warrant requirement for tracking cell phone location over time.

Digital 4th’s goal is to simplify, clarify, and unify ECPA’s standards, providing stronger privacy protections for communications in response to changes in technology. At the same time, we support the preservation of all legal tools necessary for government agencies to enforce laws, respond to emergency circumstances, and protect the public.

Private communications should be protected across all platforms, whether they occur online, over the phone or through the mail.

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Federal law today does not treat all communication the same. Private communications online are far less protected than conversations over the phone or letters through the mail. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, established standards almost 30 years ago for government access to private information that is transmitted and stored on the Internet.


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History

When ECPA passed in 1986, it was intended to extend Fourth Amendment protections to communications conducted over the Internet. After 1986, technology changed rapidly, but the law remains virtually the same. It does not, for example, take account of the development of the Internet “cloud,” where companies and individuals now store vast amounts of private and proprietary information. It does not establish any specific standard for law enforcement access to location information generated through use of cell phones.


Our Goal

Digital 4th supports updating ECPA to ensure that whether your information is stored online, in the cloud or in a file cabinet, government officials must go through the same search warrant process to access it. We also support updating ECPA to provide the same, consistent warrant requirement for tracking cell phone location over time.

Our goal is to simplify, clarify, and unify ECPA’s standards, providing stronger privacy protections for communications in response to changes in technology. Digital 4th at the same time supports preserving the legal tools necessary for government agencies to enforce laws, respond to emergency circumstances and protect the public.