Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy Commemorating Data Privacy Day

Today I join privacy advocates, industry leaders and national, State and local government officials from across our Nation in celebrating Data Privacy Day -- a day to recognize the need to better secure our privacy and security in cyberspace.  I am also pleased to join Senators on both sides of the aisle in cosponsoring a Senate resolution to commemorate Data Privacy Day. 

In the Digital Age, Americans face new threats to their digital privacy and security as consumers and businesses alike collect, share and store more and more information in cyberspace.  Data Privacy Day is an important reminder about the need to improve data privacy as we reap the many benefits of new technologies.

Last year the Judiciary Committee approved digital privacy legislation that I authored to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to improve the privacy protections for Americans’ email and other electronic communications.  That bill would, among other things, require that the Government obtain a search warrant, based upon probable cause, before obtaining email and other electronic communications from a third-party service provider.  When I and others in Congress authored ECPA in 1986, email was a novelty and most Americans had never heard of the Internet.  Today, communication by email is commonplace and many of us store email and other electronic communications with service providers or “in the cloud” for extended periods of time. 

After three decades, it is essential that Congress update ECPA to ensure that this critical law keeps pace with new technologies and the way Americans use and store email today.  Digital privacy is important to all Americans, regardless of party affiliation or ideology.  That is why when Congress first enacted ECPA, we did so with strong bipartisan support.  I appreciate the willingness of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte to work in partnership with me to examine and update this critical privacy law.  I look forward to working closely with Chairman Goodlatte and others in Congress to update this law so that it keeps pace with the many new threats to our privacy. 

I again thank and commend the many stakeholders and leaders from across the Nation who are holding events to commemorate Data Privacy Day.  I look forward to working with them and with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, in both Chambers, to enact reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

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