As the new Congress begins the “First 100 Days” in earnest, the new Republican majorities, Democratic lawmakers, and the President are in search of areas for bipartisan agreement. Updating the 28-year old Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, is fertile common ground for bipartisanship. Bringing this law up to date is an effort broadly supported across political aisles and ideologies and would be an easily achievable bipartisan victory. That is why ITI has joined with dozens of other organizations in asking lawmakers in the House and the Senate to embrace that effort.
Bringing ECPA up to date so that it works in today’s online world was one of the most bipartisan reform efforts of the previous Congress. One bill in the House of Representatives garnered 272 cosponsors, far more than needed to pass the legislation, indicating there is a sizable majority of representatives who agree that law enforcement should be required to obtain a warrant to gain access to online user content. In the Senate, a similar bipartisan bill passed the Judiciary Committee by voice vote. Unfortunately, neither bill made it to either chambers’ respective floors.
In an opinion piece last Congress, Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Tom Graves (R-GA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) called it “beyond ridiculous that email has been left out of privacy laws.” We agree, and updating this woefully out of date law would be an easy early win for the president and Congress. We stand ready to work with the president and Congress to achieve this necessary and timely task, and today ITI adds the technology sector’s voice to those of advocacy groups on the left and on the right in asking Congress to do just that.