Electronic Privacy: Why a 1986 Law Needs to be Fixed

(Full disclosure: PolitiHacks is contracted to the Center for Democracy and Technology on this issue)

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) never assumed that we’d push our email to the cloud. ECPA never thought webspace would ever be cheap enough for Dropbox or Amazon Web Services to exist.

The writers of ECPA were wrong, and their error has gradually created a huge hole in our privacy, for anything we store online has vastly weaker privacy protections from government searches. Since many entrepreneurs are early adopters, we’re likely all storing huge amounts of data online over many years, under the assumption that we’re the only one with access or those we share these files to.

But two thirds of requests for Google-stored data lacked a warrant, according to their most recent transparency report. That’s with over 8000 total requests made.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union make the pitch in Politico. Their organizations (and PolitiHacks) are part of a “Digital Fourth Coalition” to update the law for modern online usage.

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