WASHINGTON—Digital 4th – a privacy coalition comprised of Americans for Tax Reform, American Civil Liberties Union, Heritage Action for America and the Center for Democracy & Technology – today unveiled the results of a new survey showing Americans agree, with levels of support rarely seen in politics today, that Congress should strengthen privacy protections for email and other online communications. The survey, conducted by Vox Populi Polling, ran in six states (Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia), as well as the Los Angeles media market.
Voters across seven geographically and demographically diverse areas demonstrated strong support for reforming the law setting standards for government access to digital communications – the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Written in 1986, ECPA has not been updated for nearly three decades. It says that government agents can obtain emails, documents, and other information stored online without a warrant from a judge.
“There is a rare, overwhelming and incredibly diverse consensus among voters that ECPA needs to be updated. In every area surveyed, more than 80 percent of voters feel it is time to update the law. These levels of support are nearly unheard of in politics today. And what may be even more remarkable than the consensus is the consistency of this support regardless of gender, age, race or party affiliation. All candidates should note that this issue carries power whether they are involved in general election races or primary campaigns,” said Brent Seaborn of Vox Populi Polling.
“Updating ECPA is a unique issue that has brought together Republicans, Democrats and Independents. At this time of heightened concern about privacy, Congress has an opportunity to demonstrate to Americans that it cares about their privacy. Legislation is pending in the House and Senate. We all agree that the law limiting government surveillance is woefully outdated and needs to be modernized for the 21st century. Now is the time for Congress to act,” said Jim Dempsey, Vice President for Public Policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a member of the Digital 4th coalition.
Additional key findings of the survey are below:
- Between 65% and 70% of voters in each area stated that it is extremely or very important for there to be limits on how government agencies can find out about what you say privately online.
- This could be an effective campaign issue for both sides of the aisle in 2014. In four states, over 70% of voters said they would be more likely to vote for a federal candidate who pledged to update ECPA. In the other two, the number topped 60%.