Today, a coalition of two dozen organizations is relaunching VanishingRights.com, a site that calls on Congress to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act – also known as ECPA.
ECPA, one of the Internet’s most outdated laws, allows hundreds of federal agencies—including the IRS, FBI, and DEA—as well as state and local agencies to demand access to your old emails and documents stored in the cloud without a warrant.
Vanishing Rights originally launched in support of an ECPA reform bill from Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Leahy (R-UT); the Leahy-Lee bill has since passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. Now, we’re turning our attention to the House, where an ECPA reform bill has been introduced by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Tom Graves (R-GA), and Jared Polis (D-CO). We’re calling on all Representatives to support the House bill, which has already picked up 137 cosponsors.
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 everything – for one thing, ECPA pertains to criminal investigations, while the NSA is involved in national security investigations. But ECPA reform is a part of the solution. It is bipartisan. It 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.