Coalition Urges White House to Reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Central to the NSA spying debate is the discussion revolving around the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

Currently, the statute doesn’t give Americans the right to protection of any private communications or documents stored in the cloud. The ECPA passed as an amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act and it does not protect emails, photos or even text messages from government’s access through the requirement of a search warrant approved by a judge.

The amendment passed in 1986 when current technology was just taking its first steps.

Multiple organizations have come together to persuade the White House to reform the outdated legislation designed to prevent government outreach. The coalition — which includes the R Street Institute, American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and FreedomWorks — wrote a letter to highlight the Obama administration’s lack of dedication to this matter.

According to the group, the Securities and Exchange Commission is behind the administration’s unresponsiveness.

Many efforts have been put forward to ensure that the administration addresses this issue such as the Email Privacy Act, a bill that is co-sponsored by 205 members of the House and that was introduced by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO).

The bill is currently under congressional review. If the proposed legislation passes, electronic communication information stored in the cloud by third-party service providers should be protected from government access without a warrant.

A petition created last November urging the White House to side on the issue has surpassed the 100,000 signatures mark and has yet to be responded.

Meanwhile, SEC’s chairwoman Mary Jo White claims that the agency is aware of concerns regarding privacy shared by Americans and that the agency is “very open” to talking about ways to increase privacy protections.

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