It’s the part of the Constitution that keeps the government from invading your privacy for no reason. If the police, the IRS, or the FBI want to search your home, they need a good reason, and a warrant from a judge.
Laws often lag behind technological change. As a result, privacy can suffer. Consider the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), adopted in 1986. Under ECPA, government agencies claim they do not need a warrant to search private stuff you have stored in the cloud, including email.
Every day we read about new government surveillance programs accessing more info about our private lives. We’re in a critical moment. Fortunately, momentum in Congress is building in support of the Email Privacy Act (HR 1852), which would update ECPA and require a warrant for online communications.
ECPA says the government can read a lot of your most personal stuff without a warrant. That doesn’t make sense and conflicts with the Fourth Amendment.
That’s why members of Congress from both parties are supporting the Email Privacy Act. But if we want a bill to pass, we’ll need even more Members to support legislation. That’s why you should contact your Representative today and ask him or her to cosponsor the bill.
With each passing day, more and more of our personal information and communications are stored online. Almost everyone stores years’ worth of email, along with private photos and many other sensitive materials. Unless we act now to urge Congress to make this common sense update to ECPA, aggressive government investigators will try to access this information without a warrant.
Privacy means you can be yourself. You can express ideas without fear of being unjustly punished or discriminated against. Privacy lets you live your life without pausing to think if the government is watching. Privacy keeps you safe. It's a core principle in any free society.
Online privacy is also important to businesses that are increasingly moving to cloud storage. Outdated privacy laws like ECPA create uncertainty that harms economic growth.