11.29.12

News Alert: Washington Post Endorses Leahy’s #ECPA Reform To Strengthen Email Privacy

Washington Post: Keeping E-mail Private
(Editorial)

In an editorial Thursday the Washington Post voices its support for Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy’s legislation to update the nation’s outdated privacy laws, particularly the Electronic Communication Privacy Act. The Judiciary Committee will consider Chairman Leahy’s Manager’s amendment to update that law, which was enacted more than 25 years go, and the Video Privacy Protection Act. 

Excerpts:

"The advertisements that the Postal Service piles into your mailbox every day are legally sacrosanct; the medical notifications your health-insurance company sends to your Gmail account are not."

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“This bizarre reality is thanks to the 1986 Electronic Privacy Communications Act, a law written before anyone dreamed that Americans would send, receive and store so much private information over third-party services such as Gmail or would draft documents using cloud computing that they intend to keep confidential. Now Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the 1986 law’s original author, wants to amend it into the 21st century….This would bring the law in line with the reality that Americans are using electronic communications services to exchange and store all sorts of sensitive data.”

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“Mr. Leahy’s amendments are worthy of enthusiastic support from his colleagues. They are already too long in coming.”

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A Thursday Associated Press article also notes that Leahy’s bill to strengthen email privacy is also sensitive to the needs of law enforcement.

Excerpts:

“Federal and state authorities still will have a robust set of tools to track down lawbreakers even as these officials oppose changes supported by a broad coalition of technology companies and public interest groups.”


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“Setting the bar higher doesn't prevent law enforcement agencies from doing their jobs, according to current and former prosecutors, judges and attorneys who specialize in privacy issues… Nor does the legislation weaken other methods used by law enforcement for collecting electronic information. A subpoena signed by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — will continue to be sufficient for obtaining routing data from third-party Internet providers that can identify the sender of an email and the location where the message was sent.”

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Read the full Washington Post editorial online.

Read the full Associated Press article online.

A live webcast of today’s Judiciary Committee executive business meeting can be viewed here.

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