Despite its misleading name, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 made it legal for the U.S. government to obtain citizens’ email without a warrant or probable cause.
Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 70 other civil liberties organizations, public interest groups, and companies are trying to get it revised. This week they sent two letters to the House and Senate urging lawmakers to reconsider the “archaic” act. The first promotes HR 1852, the bipartisan Email Privacy Act, and the other its Senate companion bill S. 607, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013.
There are more than 260 cosponsors in the House for the Email Privacy Act, and the Senate’s counterpart is due for its final vote, the EFF wrote.
Thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, it is far easier for the government to obtain private digital information stored online than on a computer’s hard drive, something that the many digital rights organizations believe is outdated and needs to change. Significantly more of Americans’ personal data is stored in “the cloud,” than it was in 1986.
See also: How To Protect Yourself In The Cloud
“Updating ECPA would respond to the deeply held concerns of Americans about their privacy. S. 607 would make it clear that the warrant standard of the U.S. Constitution applies to private digital information just as it applies to physical property,” both letters read.
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