Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty Support Updating Electronic Communications Privacy Act

ATR and Digital Liberty signed on to a letter authored by a broad coalition in support of efforts to reform ECPA, a law governing digital privacy passed in 1986. The letter reads:

We, the undersigned companies and organizations, are writing to express our support for
Chairman Leahy’s and Sen. Lee’s ECPA Amendments Act, S. 607, which the Committee will
consider shortly. The bill would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to
provide stronger protection to sensitive personal and proprietary communications stored in “the
cloud.” We urge all Members of the Committee to support the bill.

ECPA, which sets standards for government access to private communications, is critically
important to businesses, government investigators and ordinary citizens. Though the law was
forward-looking when enacted in 1986, technology has advanced dramatically and ECPA has
been outpaced. Courts have issued inconsistent interpretations of the law, creating uncertainty
for service providers, for law enforcement agencies, and for the hundreds of millions of
Americans who use the Internet in their personal and professional lives. Moreover, the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a provision of ECPA allowing the government to obtain a
person’s email without a warrant is unconstitutional.

The ECPA Amendments Act would update ECPA in one key respect, making it clear that,
except in emergencies, or under other existing exceptions, the government must obtain a
warrant in order to compel a service provider to disclose the content of emails, texts or other
private material stored by the service provider on behalf of its users.

This standard would create a more level playing field for technology. It would cure the
constitutional defect identified by the Sixth Circuit. It would allow law enforcement officials to
obtain electronic communications in all appropriate cases while protecting Americans’
constitutional rights. It would provide clarity and certainty to law enforcement agencies at all
levels and to American businesses developing innovative new services and competing in a
global marketplace. It would implement a core principle supported by Digital Due Process,, a broad coalition of companies, privacy groups, think tanks, and

For all these reasons, we strongly urge all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to
support the ECPA Amendments Act, S. 607.

View the full letter here.