The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

ECPA Reform Moves Forward

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) applauds approval by voice vote today of S. 607, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013, by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was enacted in 1986, long before widespread use of the Internet. Today’s society communicates in a dramatically different manner than in 1986, with an increasing amount of data stored digitally with third party providers. In particular, concerns have been raised by the Digital Due Process Coalition (DDP), of which CAGW is a member, about the privacy of information stored online, including the use of third party cloud providers for email storage.  The 1986 law was unclear in regard to what kind of authority law enforcement and government agencies have to access such information. Members of the DDP pushed hard for more than a year to include provisions in ECPA reform legislation that would require a warrant in order for law enforcement to access the content of electronic communications.  S. 607 will provide much-needed reform to the existing law to bring it into today’s technological landscape. In addition to being a member of DDP, CAGW is also the co-chair of the Privacy Working Group, which brings together leading experts and thought leaders on current privacy policy and online safety issues.  If S. 607 is signed into law, information stored by individuals online, especially in cloud computing services would be subject to the same privacy rules and protections as information stored in personal computers, desk drawers and file cabinets.

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