In 1986, there was no World Wide Web, nobody carried a cell phone, and the only "social networking" two-year-old Mark Zuckerberg was doing was at pre-school or on play dates.
It was also the year that the law that protects the privacy of your electronic life — email, cell phone location records, Facebook posts, search history, cloud computing documents — was passed. Like the DeLorean of "Back to the Future," most of these technologies were still the stuff of sci-fi fantasies in 1986.
Since 1986, technology has advanced at breakneck speed while electronic privacy law remained at a standstill. The outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) allows the government to intercept and access a treasure trove of information about who you are, where you go, and what you do, which is being collected by cell phone providers, search engines, social networking sites, and other websites every day.
The Founding Fathers recognized that citizens in a democracy need privacy for their "persons, houses, papers, and effects." That remains as true as ever. Today's citizens deserve no less protection when their "papers and effects" are stored electronically.
Online privacy law shouldn't be older than the Web, and Americans shouldn't have to choose between new technology and privacy.