We all know the Fourth Amendment gives us a right to privacy – making it so the government can only search our home if they have a good reason, and – except in emergencies – a warrant from a judge. Since technology has advanced faster than court decisions and statues, our right to privacy is suffering.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was enacted to extend restrictions on the governments ability to intercept certain electronic communications. It was signed into law in 1986. 1986! Think: Peter Gabriel’s hit “In Your Eyes,” the Iran-Contra affair, Top Gun, the appearance of Halley’s Comet, and $89,430 was the average cost of a new home in the U.S.. The ECPA is now one of the Internet’s most outdated laws and desperately needs reform.
Instead of storing our private letters, photos, documents in a shoebox or file in our bedroom closet, most of us have them stored in the cloud. Under the current ECPA however, government agencies don’t need a warrant to search our private stuff stored in the cloud like they would if we stored these items in our home. We think this should change and better reflect this day and age.
The ECPA Reform Bill prohibits Internet companies from divulging contents of communications to the government without a warrant. It won’t solve everything, but it’s a good start and definitely part of the solution. It is bipartisan and has wide support from the tech community and advocacy groups. It’s time for congress to give the public the same level of protection of privacy that our email and online documents deserve.
If you agree, visit VanishingRights.com and tell your Representative to support ECPA reform.