TCP Joins Coalition Urging ECPA Reform in New Congress

The Constitution Project joined a broad coalition of over 60 technology companies, trade associations and privacy groups urging quick consideration and passage of The Email Privacy Act, warrant-for-content legislation that would provide basic privacy protections for electronic communications.  In a letter delivered to leaders of the House Judiciary Committee on January 30, the groups wrote that the bill “represents true bipartisan, commonsense reform on privacy and was endorsed unanimously by the House of Representatives in the 114th Congress.”

The Email Privacy Act would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which currently allows law enforcement agencies to access without a warrant emails and other private records that have been stored for more than 180 days “in the cloud.” As a result, emails and online documents don’t receive the same privacy protections as physical letters sent through the Post Office and stored in filing cabinets, which require a warrant to access.  ECPA was enacted in 1986, and has not been modified since to keep pace with people’s use of rapidly evolving digital technologies.

Last year the Email Privacy Act received strong support, and was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives by a 419-0 vote, but was never given a Senate vote.  Advocates from across the political spectrum are confident that Congress will build on progress made, and enact the Email Privacy Act into law.

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