Today, the push for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act reached a significant milestone as the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 1852), originally co-sponsored by Representatives Yoder, Graves, and Polis, reached 218 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. With the majority of House Members backing this important bill, there is strong, bipartisan support to update ECPA and create a clean warrant-for-content standard.
Our association, along with a broad range of stakeholders, has long advocated for ECPA reform to meet the needs of today’s fast-growing, online environment. The House now has a unique opportunity to extend the same 4th Amendment protections enjoyed in the offline world to electronic communications and information stored online. A majority of House Members understand that these protections should not be whittled away by exceptions or carve-outs sought by civil agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which would undermine users’ reasonable expectations of privacy.
Extending civil agencies’ authority to seek users’ information from hosts and third party providers beyond existing subpoena authority puts online information and privacy at risk. Since 2010, Internet companies have stood up for their users and followed the guidelines set by the 6th Circuit in its Warshak decision, which found that the Stored Communications Act (ECPA) is unconstitutional, because it permits government access to emails without a warrant.
Given the resounding support for clean ECPA reform, we urge Chairman Goodlatte, who has long supported this effort, to move swiftly to pass H.R. 1852 out of the House Judiciary Committee.