Lawmakers Introduce ECPA Reform on Privacy & Fourth Amendment Safeguards On Digital Data

On July 27, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017, a bill to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). Among many things, the bill requires that the government and law enforcement obtain a warrant before it can access emails, geolocation information, and other sensitive information. The bill aims to provide American’s their full Fourth Amendment rights regardless of which method of communications they use and where it is stored without compromising law enforcement’s ability to prosecute and solve crimes.

“Americans don’t believe the federal government should have warrantless access to their emails just because they are 180 days old,” Sen. Lee said in a press release, adding “They don’t believe the government should be able to always know where you are just because you are carrying a cell phone. It is long past time that Congress updated our federal laws to better protect Americans’ privacy.”

“Our digital privacy laws are woefully out of date and make no sense in the modern world,” said Sen. Leahy, adding “Americans expect and deserve strong, meaningful protections for their emails, texts, photos, location information and documents stored in the cloud. It’s time for Congress to enact broad reforms to ECPA and other privacy laws to bring these laws into the 21st Century.”


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