WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Digital 4th coalition unveiled new poll results showing broad and diverse support for stronger email privacy protections – both nationally and in early primary states. According to a survey by Vox Populi Polling, 86% of voters nationwide support an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the 29-year-old law setting standards for government access to emails and online communications. In Iowa, 81% of Democratic voters and 74% of Republican voters are behind ECPA reform. The numbers were similar in New Hampshire, with 84% of Democrat voters and 75% of Republicans in support.
Moreover, 77% of voters across the country believe the government should be required to get a warrant from a judge before obtaining access to emails, photos and documents stored online.
“ECPA reform is overwhelmingly bipartisan and overwhelmingly supported by Americans across the country. There is tremendous momentum with more than 300 members of Congress co-sponsoring legislation requiring a warrant for emails and online communications. The legislation would simply extend Constitutional protections online,” said Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel and Policy Advisor at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a member of the Digital 4th coalition.
“What’s particularly illuminating is that more than three out of every four voters believe that the government needs to get a warrant before accessing emails and other online communications. Federal agencies like the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) have been advocating to circumvent the warrant requirement. It’s clear that Americans see this as nothing more than a power grab. We hope Congress stands up to federal agencies and preserves our constitutional rights online,” said Katie McAuliffe, Federal Affairs Manager at Americans Tax Reform (ATR) and member of the Digital 4th coalition.
“Support for strengthening online privacy spans across all ages, races and political affiliations. This level of support is typically unheard of in politics today. It is clear from our results that Americans want online privacy laws to be updated,” said Michael Meyers of Vox Populi Polling.
Other notable numbers from the poll include:
- 84% of voters feel that privacy is important (63% extremely or very important) when it comes to the government accessing their online information. Only 16% of voters feel that it is not very important or not important at all.
- 77% of voters reported that a warrant should be required to access these online communications. 78% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans supported the requirement of a warrant.
- ECPA reform does have an effect on presidential candidate choice for a majority of American voters. 53% of all likely general election voters stated that they would be more inclined to vote for a candidate who supported strengthening online privacy through ECPA reform.
To read a memo on the full polling results, click here.
The sample size for the survey is 1,011 active voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%. 811 interviews were completed using automated telephone technology and 200 were conducted using mobile based survey technology. All interviews were conducted November 11-12, 2015.
ECPA was enacted into law in 1986, long before most Americans had email. As written, the law grants the government unwarranted access to Americans’ private emails, photos, documents and even social media stored for more than 180 days. Reforming this antiquated law is necessary and long overdue, a sentiment the majority of voters support.