Today, if the police want to come into your house and take your personal letters, they need a warrant. If they want to read those same letters saved on Google or Yahoo they don’t. The Fourth Amendment has eroded online.
Americans for Tax Reform and the American Civil Liberties Union are members of the Digital Due Process Coalition, a wide-ranging group of privacy advocates, think tanks and businesses, like Microsoft, Google, Apple, AT&T, that often disagree on different issues. However, we can agree on consistent privacy protection for digital documents.
The Fourth Amendment, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,” is the cornerstone of American privacy protection. We agree that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), though forward-thinking in 1986, has become outdated as we head in to 2013.
At the time ECPA was passed, digital storage was expensive. Emails were typically discarded or downloaded within six months of being received, and sensitive material was stored on paper or a local hard drive.
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