Is it time for an ECPA alteration?
Currently, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), the government is permitted to, among other things, track your movements using the signal your mobile phone silently sends out every few seconds, read your e-mail and sneak a peek at your online calendar and the private photos you have stored in “the cloud,” all without a warrant. Although the government would need a warrant to seize photos on your hard drive or intercept an email en route, once the data rests on the Internet’s servers, the government claims that you have lost your privacy rights in it.
The Digital Due Process coalition (founded by leading Internet companies and public interest groups from both the left and the right) is pressing Congress to enact reforms to ECPA. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) held a press conference to highlight their bi-partisan sponsorship of a bill requiring government agents to get a warrant before using technological means to track an individual. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the original author of ECPA, announced his intention to schedule a Committee markup before year’s end on his ECPA reform bill.