A couple op-eds timed for Data Privacy Day today reiterate calls for lawmakers to pass an update of the 1986 Electronic Communications Act.
In a piece in Real Clear Policy, Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, say they’ll reintroduce their legislation to update the 1986 law, which the Senate Judiciary Committee has previously approved, in the “coming weeks”:
The proposal we will soon introduce requires the government to obtain a search warrant, based on probable cause, before searching through the content of Americans’ e-mail or other electronic communications stored with a service provider such as Google, Facebook, or Yahoo!. The government is already prohibited from tapping our phones or forcibly entering our homes to obtain private information without warrants. The same privacy protections should apply to our online communications.
“Congress should pass ECPA reform this year, and President Barack Obama should sign these important privacy reforms into law,” they write.
For some background: under the current 180-day rule, law enforcement can obtain content of emails 180-days or less with a subpoena, not a search warrant.
Gate Rottman, legislative counsel and policy adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union and Katie McAuliffe, federal affairs managers and executive director of Digital Liberty at Americans for Tax Reform, also call for lawmakers to pass legislation to update the 1986 law in an op-ed in Roll Call.
The purpose of ECPA was to protect our privacy. Technological innovations have now turned that protection on its head, making it a threat to our privacy instead. Its original intent must be restored. Government must live within the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment. Our privacy, our economic future, our way of life depend on it.