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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties today submitted written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). ECPA became law in 1986 and has not been updated to reflect the vast technological advances that have occurred since its passage. The ACLU is asking Congress to require government officials to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before allowing access to any electronic records, such as e-mails and internet search histories, just as they have always had to do for other sensitive personal information.
"The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was written in 1986 before the Web was even invented and is in desperate need of an upgrade," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "While Americans have embraced technology as an essential part of everyday life, they have not surrendered their fundamental right to privacy. Congress must ensure that our privacy laws reflect the technology Americans use every day."
Specifically, the ACLU is asking Congress to modernize ECPA to:
"As it's currently written, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is not living up to its name. Every day, Americans conduct more and more of their lives online while their privacy protections remain stuck in the '80s," said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "As our technology advances, so must our privacy. Congress must give Americans comprehensive protection for records of their e-mails, texts and cell phone locations."
The ACLU's statement for the record submitted to the committee is here: www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/aclu-statement-senate-judiciary-committee-electronic-communications-privacy-a