Today marks the 28th anniversary of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) becoming law and existing as the standard for online privacy rights in the United States. On the law’s 28th birthday, the Digital 4th coalition is calling on Congress to update ECPA and establish reforms that affirm Fourth Amendment protections extend into the digital space. By reforming ECPA, the government would be required to get a warrant in most cases to access Americans’ private online information.
“Congress must pass ECPA reform and safeguard Americans’ online privacy rights in the digital age. Both the Email Privacy Act in the House and the ECPA Amendments Act in the Senate are poised to do just that with Congressional action. With broad, bipartisan support for both pieces of legislation, this is common sense reform our leaders can establish now. 28 years is old enough,” said Katie McAuliffe, Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), Executive Director of Digital Liberty and a member of the Digital 4th coalition.
As currently written, ECPA leaves Americans’ private online communications open to unwarranted government intrusion. Despite monumental advancements in technology over the last three decades, ECPA has failed to evolve since its enactment in 1986. As a consequence, Americans’ personal emails, photos, financial records and other files stored online are left vulnerable to this gaping hole in privacy rights.