Congress should reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to ensure that citizens have a right to privacy for their electronic data whether it is stored at home on a PC or remotely in the cloud.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was enacted in 1986 and has not kept pace with the advancement of technology. For example, there are different levels of protection afforded to the privacy of an individual’s data based on where the data is stored and how long the data has been stored. This means that the privacy of a person’s email may be different if it is stored on his or her PC versus if it is stored in the cloud. In the former case law enforcement might need a search warrant based on probable cause to review the data, but in the latter law enforcement would only need a subpoena. Reform is needed in this area to protect Fourth Amendment rights. Where possible, the privacy of an individual’s communication should be the same regardless of the type of technology that is used to facilitate this communication.