| Press Release | Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON Digital 4th – a coalition comprised of the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Democracy & Technology and Heritage Action for America – released the following statement today in anticipation of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) this morning:

“The support for ECPA reform is clear: over 300 Members of Congress, over 113,000 Americans, and over a hundred privacy groups, technology companies and entrepreneurs back Senate and House legislation. It’s unfortunate that civil agencies like the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) have held up reform for this long. We hope the Senate Judiciary Committee will advance the ECPA Amendments Act without delay. Every day ECPA remains outdated is another day that Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights are violated.

“The coalition appreciates the hard work of Senators Lee, Leahy and the remaining twenty-two co-sponsors to bring together a diverse and bipartisan group of voices to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights to online privacy, and we look forward to working with them to ensure this bill isn’t weakened by harmful amendments.”



What They’re Saying About ECPA Reform

Members Of Congress

Sen.  Mike Lee (R-UT): “There Is No Reason We Should Still Be Operating Under A Law Written In The Analog Age…”: “There is no reason we should still be operating under a law written in the analog age when we’re living in a digital world. Yet that’s exactly what has happened with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which has remained virtually unchanged since it was first enacted in 1986. In the nearly three decades since ECPA became law, technology has advanced rapidly and beyond the imagination of anyone living in 1986.” (Lee/Leahy/Yoder/Polis Press Release: “Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introduces Bill to Protect Online Privacy,” 2/4/15)


Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “[N]ow Is The Time To Act Swiftly To Bring Our Privacy Protections Into The Digital Age”: “The bill we are introducing today protects Americans’ digital privacy – in their emails, and all the other files and photographs they store in the cloud. It builds consumer trust, and it provides law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to ensure public safety. This is a bipartisan issue, and now is the time to act swiftly to bring our privacy protections into the digital age.” (Lee/Leahy/Yoder/Polis Press Release: “Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introduces Bill to Protect Online Privacy,” 2/4/15)


Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): “[I]t Is Time To Update Our Federal Privacy Laws To Reflect Recent Advances In Technology And Digital Communications”: “In New Hampshire, we cherish our right to privacy, and it is time to update our federal privacy laws to reflect recent advances in technology and digital communications. This legislation would update current law-much of which was put in place nearly thirty years ago, before email was widely used-to require a search warrant based on probable cause in order for the government to access email content, while also requiring that individuals receive prompt notification when email content is disclosed subject to a warrant.” (Ayotte Press Release: “Ayotte Backs Legislation to Strengthen Email Privacy Rights,” 5/21/15)


Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS): “The Last Time Congress Updated Our Email Privacy Laws, We Were Two Years Removed From The Release Of The First Macintosh Computer”: “The federal government is using an arcane 1986 law to conduct warrantless searches of the personal email accounts and other digital communication of the American people. The last time Congress updated our email privacy laws, we were two years removed from the release of the first Macintosh computer. It’s time Congress modernized these outdated statutes to ensure that the rights protected by the Fourth Amendment extend to Americans’ email correspondence and digital storage.” (Lee/Leahy/Yoder/Polis Press Release: “Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introduces Bill to Protect Online Privacy,” 2/4/15)


Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO): “For Too Long Now Americans’ Electronic Communications Have Been Subject To Invasive And Unwarranted Searches…”: “For too long now Americans’ electronic communications have been subject to invasive and unwarranted searches based on laws written for the Apple 2, not the iPhone 6. Today, a majority of the House of Representatives is standing up to say that the government has no more business reading your personal email than it does reading your physical mail. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this bipartisan bill and make a reasonable expectation of privacy the law for all forms of communication.” (Lee/Leahy/Yoder/Polis Press Release: “Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introduces Bill to Protect Online Privacy,” 2/4/15)

Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) And Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): “The Email Privacy Act Is A Simple Solution That Would Provide The Appropriate Fourth Amendment Protections For All Americans”: “We are proud to join with many of our colleagues in co-sponsoring the Email Privacy Act. This legislation would update ECPA for the digital age by requiring the government to get a warrant in order to access private online communications. The Email Privacy Act is a simple solution that would provide the appropriate Fourth Amendment protections for all Americans. Moreover, it has broad bipartisan support with more than 200 co-sponsors and counting. This is practical reform every American can stand behind.” (Reps. John Conyers and Jerrold Nadler, “Editorial: Rebooting Electronic Privacy Rights,” Huffington Post, 6/13/14)


Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA): “No Federal Agency Should Be Under The Illusion That Email Is Any Less Protected Than Regular Mail Or Other Methods Of Communication”: “I strongly oppose the SEC’s effort to sidestep the Fourth Amendment. No federal agency should be under the illusion that email is any less protected than regular mail or other methods of communication. It’s long past time to pass the Email Privacy Act and the Leahy-Lee bill, without carve outs, and eliminate the confusion about privacy rights that clearly exists in the Executive Branch.” (Rep. Tom Graves, “Members Oppose SEC Power Grab on Email Privacy,” Press Release, 7/30/13)


Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX): “Most Important, It Reaffirms That While The Pace Of Change In Our World Is Ever Accelerating, Our Founding Ideals And Civil Liberties Will Exist Unabridged Forever”: “Technology may change, but the Constitution does not. We’ve written the legislation to be technology neutral so our privacy safeguards can’t be weakened by future innovations. It will encourage the growth of cloud computing in Texas and across the U.S. — and improve our competitiveness in world markets. That would create and protect American jobs. Most important, it reaffirms that while the pace of change in our world is ever accelerating, our founding ideals and civil liberties will exist unabridged forever. And that’s just the way it is.” (Rep. Ted Poe, “Op-ed: With Cloud, Privacy Issues Loom,” Politico, 4/23/13)


Industry And Privacy Advocates

The Internet Association: “The Time For ECPA Reform Is Now”: “The time for ECPA reform is now. Reaching 100,000 signatures to meet the White House petition threshold indicates that users want and expect 4th Amendment privacy protections for their personal information stored in cloud-based servers and web-based email servers as they do for their personal documents and effects stored in the offline world.  We look forward to the White House’s official response on this important issue.” (Statement on ECPA White House Petition Surpassing 100,000 Signatures,” The Internet Association, 12/12/13)


Engine: “The Email Privacy Act Clarifies Existing Law, And Provides A Much-Needed Update To Bring Regulations In Line With The Digital Age”: “The Email Privacy Act clarifies existing law, and provides a much-needed update to bring regulations in line with the digital age. We thank Reps. Yoder and Polis for their leadership on this important issue, and with majority support we look now to House leadership to move this bill, and we hope they act swiftly to pass this common sense reform.” (Engine Advocacy, ECPA Reform Bill Attracts Majority Support in House, 6/18/14)


American Library Association:The Email Privacy Act Would Finally Update The Dangerously Outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), Which Was Written Before The Advent Of Widespread Personal Computing And Internet Use…”: “Getting a strong and bipartisan majority in Congress to vote for anything these days is hard enough and it’s much, much rarer still for a majority of all Members of the House to formally co-sponsor a given bill.  That distinctive and important milestone — 218 official cosponsors — was reached today, however, by legislation featured in May 30′s “Warrant? Who Needs a Warrant??!!??”  H.R. 1852, the “Email Privacy Act,” would finally update the dangerously outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which was written before the advent of widespread personal computing and Internet use…” (Adam Eisgrau, Wall Street Watchdogs at Odds with Majority of the House and 80%+ of Americans Over Warrantless “E-Searches”, American Library Association, 6/18/14)


Software And Information Industry Association (SIIA): “At A Time When There Is Little Agreement In Washington, This Stands Out As A Bipartisan Priority To Level The Playing Field For Protection Of Electronic Communications”: “Yesterday, the Email Privacy Act (H.R.1852) reached a major milestone:  formal support from a bipartisan majority of House member—that’s 218 of the 435 members of the House, including a “majority of the majority” with 136 Republicans and 82 Democrats signing on as sponsors of the legislation. At a time when there is little agreement in Washington, this stands out as a bipartisan priority to level the playing field for protection of electronic communications.” (David LeDuc, Email Privacy Act Reaches Milestone: Majority Support in the House, Software and Information Industry Association, 6/18/14)


Katie McAuliffe, Federal Affairs Manager At Americans for Tax Reform: The Email Privacy Act “Is Critical To Americans’ Fourth Amendment Rights”: “The House needs to act now.  Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Americans’ emails, photos, documents and other online communications lack the Fourth Amendment protections guaranteed by our Constitution. The Email Privacy Act should be cleanly passed through the House Committee on the Judiciary and brought to the floor without amendments for a recorded vote. This legislation is critical to Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.” (Digital 4th Press Release, House Hits Majority on Email Privacy Act, 6/18/14)


Chris Calabrese, Center For Democracy & Technology: ECPA Reform Is A “Truly Bipartisan Measure”: “Reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is a truly bipartisan measure that enjoys the support of a large majority of Americans. Speedy passage would be a strong signal that Congress plans to move past the stalemates and partisanship of previous years and update the law to protect the privacy of Americans online.” (CDT Press Release: “Congress Moves Forward on Protecting Americans’ Digital Privacy,” 2/4/15)


Gabe Rottman, American Civil Liberties Union: “We Are Pleased This Impressive Group Of Senators And Representatives Has Joined Together To Ensure That Americans Receive Online Privacy Protections They Deserve”: “We are pleased this impressive group of Senators and Representatives has joined together to ensure that Americans receive online privacy protections they deserve. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015 is vital to securing Americans’ online communications. We call on leaders in both the House and Senate to pass these bills right away to make ECPA reform a reality.” (Digital 4th Press Release: “Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introduces Bill to Protect Online Privacy,” 2/4/15)


Dan Holler, Heritage Action For America: “Congress Can Pass Bipartisan ECPA Reform Now And Demonstrate To Everyone That They Are Serious About Respecting The Fourth Amendment”: As we celebrate our country’s independence and reflect upon our founding principles this week, let’s work together to bring Fourth Amendment rights to the digital age.” (Dan Holler, “Editorial: Fourth Amendment Should Apply Online, Too,” The Roanoke Times, 7/7/14)


Nate Cardozo, Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Let’s Make 2015 The Year That Congress Finally Reforms [ECPA]”: “This is the third year running that bipartisan ECPA reform bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate. Last year, despite the fact that bills identical to those introduced today were passed out of committee in the Senate, and had more than 260 co-sponsors in the House, neither made it to a floor vote. Let’s make 2015 the year that Congress finally reforms the 29-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act.” (EFF Press Release: “New Bipartisan Bills Give Congress a Chance to Strengthen Email Privacy,” 2/4/15)



David Lieber, Senior Privacy Policy Counsel At Google: “Congress Should Send A Clear Message About The Limits Of Government Surveillance By Enacting Legislation That Would Create A Bright-Line, Warrant-For-Content Standard”: “Now that a majority has gone on record to support this commonsense update, we once again urge Congress to expeditiously pass legislation to update ECPA.” (David Lieber, “A significant milestone for digital due process,” Google Blog, 6/18/14)


Joe Sullivan, Facebook: “ECPA Hasn’t Exactly Kept Up With The Times”: “Unfortunately, ECPA itself is murky on this bedrock warrant requirement, which is partially because it is outdated. In 1986, when ECPA was created, most people didn’t have home computers or email—much less smartphones, tablets, GPS devices, cloud storage, or social media accounts. Like parachute pants, fingerless gloves and Howard the Duck – to name a few other things that seemed like a good idea in 1986 – ECPA hasn’t exactly kept up with the times.” (Joe Sullivan, “Joining National Day of Action for ECPA Reform,” Facebook Blog, 12/5/13)


Chamber Of Commerce: The Email Privacy Act Has Garnered “Majority Support In The House Of Representatives For Updating Digital Communications Privacy For The 21st Century”: “We’ve witnessed an historic moment in Washington, D.C. With 218 co-sponsors of H.R. 1852, the “Email Privacy Act,” there is now majority support in the House of Representatives for updating digital communications privacy for the 21st Century.” (Sean Hackbarth, House Majority Backs Email Privacy Bill, Chamber of Commerce, 6/18/14)


Joshua McNary, Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids/Iowa City: “The Leahy-Lee Bill Has Strong Bipartisan Support In Congress”: “It was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee early in the last Congress. It is supported by a broad coalition. Almost everyone familiar with the issue is confident we can restore Americans’ right to privacy without compromising government’s ability to enforce laws, regulations, and investigate criminal activity.” (Joshua McNary, “Email Privacy Loophole Has An Easy Fix,” The Gazette, 3/25/15)


Editorial Boards

Los Angeles Times: “If A Law Enforcement Agency Wants To Examine Your Snail Mail Or The Contents Of Your Computer Hard Drive, It Must Obtain A Search Warrant, Which Means It Must Convince A Judge That There Is Probable Cause That A Crime Has Been Committed”: “But no warrant is required to obtain email or documents you have stored in a computer “cloud” so long as they are 180 days old.” (Editorial, “Privacy In The Information Age,” Los Angeles Times, 12/30/12)


Washington Post: “The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Is Old, And Technology Has Far Surpassed The Vision Of The Lawmakers Who Wrote And Passed It In 1986”: “Unlike some of the tougher issues the country is confronting following the NSA leaks, this one is easy. Congress should finally act on Mr. Leahy’s bill, and soon.” (“Editorial: An E-mail Loophole Congress Needs To Close,” The Washington Post, 7/10/13)


The Press-Enterprise: The Senate Should Pass A Bill That Would Give Online Records The Same Legal Protections Paper Records Already Enjoy”: “Privacy safeguards should not disappear simply because technology moves faster than Congress.” (“Editorial: Search, Seize Email? Only With A Warrant,” The Press-Enterprise, 7/22/13)


Cedar Rapids Gazette: “The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, A Federal Law Passed In 1986, Established Rules For Government Access To Private Information Stored Or Transmitted On The Internet”: “Trouble is, the rules were devised before most of us had home computers, routinely used email and social media and stored data on the “cloud” instead of our own files.” (“Editorial: Privacy Protection On The ‘Cloud,’The Gazette, 3/29/14)


The Deseret News: “The Country Needs Greater Clarity On This Important Constitutional Matter”: “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, has teamed up with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to introduce a necessary update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The bill passed the committee last April, and a companion measure in the House has more than 180 co-sponsors.” (“Editorial: In Our Opinion: Digital Fourth Amendment,” The Deseret News, 3/27/14)


Dallas Morning News: “There Is No Reason For This Measure To Languish”: “With support from groups as diverse as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Newspaper Association of America, Heritage Action for America and Americans for Tax Reform, and strong support in Congress, there is no reason for this measure to languish.” (“Editorial: Big Brother Is Watching,” The Dallas Morning News, 6/27/14)


The Republican [Springfield, MA]: “Over The Years, Our Privacy Has Slipped Away And Slipped Away And Slipped Away”: “Drip by drip by drip, we’ve become inured to the intrusions into what was once between us and just another individual…Finally, a good number in Congress –from both political parties – are stepping up to bring the privacy act into the 21st century.” (“Editorial: Updating Internet Privacy Law Essential Work For Congress,” The Republican, 2/10/15)


Denver Post: “A Bipartisan Coalition In Both The U.S. House And Senate Is Finally Targeting These Outdated Distinctions For Reform”: “Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis is one of the two leading House sponsors to a bill introduced this week and to which at least 231 other members have already signed on.” (“Editorial: E-mail Privacy Must Be Priority,” The Denver Post, 2/6/15)