More than 75 technology companies, start-ups, privacy advocates and public interest groups joined together to send letters to House and Senate leadership, urging both chambers to take up online privacy legislation. The groups believe that legislation to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which enjoys broad, bipartisan support, would pass overwhelmingly if brought to a vote.
Although ECPA reform has strong support from Republicans and Democrats alike, civil agencies including the SEC are holding up the bills in an attempt to gain direct access to private content held by service providers. The letter points out the steep opposition to a civil agency carve-out.
“Updating ECPA would respond to the deeply held concerns of Americans about their privacy. … The only resistance to reform comes from civil regulatory agencies that want an exception allowing them to obtain the content of customer documents and communications directly from third party service providers…we oppose a carve-out for regulatory agencies or other rules that would treat private data differently depending on the type of technology used to store it,” the companies and groups wrote.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was enacted in 1986 and has failed to evolve as technology has advanced. As such, it leaves Americans’ privacy rights online open to unwarranted government intrusion. The legislation pending in both chambers of Congress would remedy this by requiring government officials to get a warrant before accessing private online communications.
To read the letter to Senate leadership, click here.
To read the letter to House leadership, click here.