Data Foundry Signs Coalition Letter in Support of the Email Privacy Act

Email Privacy Act 2017

Yesterday, Data Foundry signed a coalition letter addressed to the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the Email Privacy Act along with tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, IBM, Cisco Systems and other tech firms. Non-profit organizations also signed on, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU. The Email Privacy Act is a revision to ECPA, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. ECPA currently allows federal law enforcement agencies to access any electronic communications that are more than 180 days old without a warrant. This particular piece of legislation has not been updated since 1986 – eons in the world of technology — and it is in desperate need of reform.

Back in 1986, very little electronic communication would have been intercepted and retained. Today, electronic communications constitute the majority of all Americans’ communications. ECPA reform is something many tech companies and nonprofits have been fighting to pass for several years. In fact, the House of Representatives unanimously endorsed ECPA reform last year, but the bill (then also referred to as the Email Privacy Act) stalled out in the Senate. This year, the Email Privacy Act has been reintroduced in the House (H.R. 387), and its language requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they are able access electronic data.

States Lead the Charge on Reforming e-Privacy Laws

Data Foundry has long been a supporter of ECPA reform, and helped craft the language for the Texas email privacy reform bill (H.B. 2268) that passed unanimously back in 2013. We believe Americans and companies doing business in the U.S. should enjoy the same privacy protections as we do in Texas. After Texas passed its email privacy bill, California and Maine also pushed ahead with new email privacy legislation. Today, 16 other states from varied regions have pushed ahead of Congress, and are currently proposing bills that protect their residents’ electronic data and communications.

These states’ efforts are part of a nationwide push for privacy that the ACLU is referring to as #TakeCTRL. On its website, the ACLU states, “As this nationwide privacy push clearly demonstrates, where Congress is unwilling or unable to act to protect Americans’ privacy, the states are more than willing to step up and fill the void.”

Remember, It’s not just about Email

Although many refer to ECPA reform as the “Email Privacy Act,” it has to do with a lot more than just email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act includes social media posts, messages and communications from electronic messenger services and files in the cloud. If you believe in the importance of privacy, contact your state’s U.S. representative in support of the Email Privacy Act, H.R. 387. If you don’t know who your representative is, visit http://www.house.gov/representatives and search by zip code. You can also show your support for privacy legislation reform using #TakeCTRL on social media.