Our Fourth Amendment Protections Shouldn’t Vanish in the Digital Age

Today, Vanishing Rights, a coalition of organizations fighting for Fourth Amendment protections online, is redoubling its efforts to get Congress to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

ECPA allows hundreds of federal agencies—including the IRS, FBI, and DEA—as well as state and local agencies to demand access your emails and documents stored in the cloud without a warrant.

Vanishing Rights is now focusing on ECPA reform in the House where bill was been introduced by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Tom Graves (R-GA), and Jared Polis (D-CO).  Support for this bill is already overwhelming with 137 co-sponsors.  We're calling on all Representatives to support the House bill, so it can move to the floor for a vote before the end of the year.

The coalition has also supported the ECPA reform bill from Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT), which passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support.

Now is the time to update ECPA. The public has been shocked by a series of revelations about overbroad government surveillance, particularly by the NSA. ECPA reform won’t solve the NSA debacle. ECPA pertains to domestic criminal investigations, while the NSA collects information for national security investigations. However, ECPA reform is a serious line of defense in domestic investigations and should not be ignored.  Just because it doesn’t solve the NSA’a prying it does solve another area where our Fourth Amendments Rights have been eroded.

Voting in favor of ECPA reform shows that Congress does care about privacy.  Electronic privacy, for documents intended to be private like email and cloud documents, is something that should be a no-brainer for Congressman and Senators who vow to uphold the Constitution.

Reforming this outdated law that was originally intended to protect our privacy and uphold the Fourth Amendment has the wide support of the tech community and advocacy groups across the ideological spectrum. The bill has been through multiple hearings and two committee markups.  Let’s get it done.

With each passing day, as more of our private information goes online, the need for ECPA reform becomes more urgent. Now is the time for Congress to finally step up and give the public what it deserves: An updated ECPA reform bill that ensures our email and online documents are protected from warrantless searches.

Visit VanishingRights.com to tell your Representatives to support ECPA reform.  If you run your own website or blog, link to VanishingRights.com.  Tweet it out.  Spread the word.