WASHINGTON, D.C. --
The Constitution Project endorses the newly introduced ECPA Modernization Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee. The legislation would close a loophole in The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that the government argues it can use to obtain emails and other electronic content without a warrant. The bill follows the passage of companion legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
"It's time for the Senate to join the 21st Century and acknowledge that emails deserve protection from warrantless snooping. The ECPA Modernization Act would finally give our emails the protection from snooping they deserve," said Jake Laperruque, Senior Counsel for The Constitution Project on privacy and surveillance issues. "This legislation would update ECPA, which, despite being our main law on electronic communications surveillance, remains a loophole riddled artifact that is literally older than I am. It's time for the Senate to follow the leadership of Senators Leahy and Lee, tireless champions on this issue, and pass these commonsense protections to the personal emails we send every day," Laperruque added.
The ECPA Modernization Act would reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, enacted in 1986, which 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 protections as do identical physical letters sent through the Post Office and stored in filing cabinets.
Earlier this year a companion bill, the Email Privacy Act, was approved by the House of Representatives by voice vote. Advocates from across the political spectrum are confident that Congress will build on the progress already made, and enact the Email Privacy Act into law.