Day of Action to Demand ECPA Reform

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Today, SIIA is joining a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the law that says the government can access your email and documents in the cloud without a warrant.

ECPA is one of the Internet’s most outdated laws – it was enacted in 1986, before most people had access to a home computer or email. ECPA says that state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as hundreds of other government agencies—like the IRS, FBI, and DEA—can access many of our stored emails, private social media messages, and documents in the cloud without getting a warrant from a judge. The law flies directly in the face of our Fourth Amendment values and creates an un-level playing field for cloud computing providers; in fact, many companies have fought back and now demand warrants before turning over customers’ communications. Of course, small companies don’t usually have the legal resources to fight this battle, so they are further disadvantaged.

Bills to reform ECPA have gained huge bipartisan support in Congress in recent months. However, legislation is now being blocked by a proposal from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is pushing for a special carve-out for regulatory agencies to get your documents from online providers without a warrant. The SEC carve-out would neuter ECPA reform.

That’s why we’re calling on the White House to break its silence and stand up for ECPA reform. Today we ask you join us by signing this petition to the White House. It’s time for the President to join tech companies, startups, advocates, and Members of Congress by supporting this commonsense, long overdue reform to ensure our privacy rights online.

David David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.