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ECPA Reform

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was adopted in 1986. Since then, technology has advanced dramatically, but the statute has not kept pace. Under ECPA, government agencies claim they do not need a warrant to search private information, such as stored email, documents in the cloud, or even the location information generated by mobile devices. Even though court cases have extended the warrant requirement to communications content and location information, the statute remains outdated. The time has come for ECPA to be reformed to ensure government agents must get a warrant before reading individuals’ private communications or tracking their movements. Congress should also consider ECPA amendments that extend the warrant requirement to sensitive metadata, strengthen notice to individuals when their data is disclosed to law enforcement, and better focus law enforcement searches on incriminating information. Read a more detailed primer on ECPA here and visit the Digital Due Process coalition website.

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