Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Co-Sponsors Legislation Protecting Electronic Privacy Rights

February 5, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators introducing a bill to modernize electronic privacy laws, the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act of 2015.

The ECPA Amendments Act of 2015 would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to improve privacy protections for electronic communications stored or maintained by a third-party service provider. The legislation requires the government to obtain a search warrant, based on probable cause, to access citizens’ emails stored or maintained by third-party service providers.

Under current outdated law, the government is required to obtain a warrant to read mail, but it does not necessarily need a warrant to access email stored in a data cloud. In particular, emails are accessible without a warrant when those emails have been left within third-party servers more than 180 days. The bill repeals this authority.

“We live in a world where technology has changed every aspect of our lives since 1986,” said Congresswoman Gabbard. “The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 needs to be updated as it reflects a world of the past that does not resemble our current online landscape. Americans ought to have a reasonable expectation of privacy for their personal and professional content stored online, and laws protecting our Fourth Amendment and digital privacy rights must be updated to reflect advances in technology that have progressed rapidly in the last three decades.”

The legislation also preserves the legal tools necessary to conduct criminal investigations and protect the public and promote public safety.

“This is a bipartisan issue. No citizen should fear that their personal communications will be subject to unreasonable seizure or invasive searches,” Gabbard continued. “Technological innovation should strengthen consumer safety, not provide the government with an excuse to abuse its power by compelling disclosure of private, personal items.”

The ECPA Amendments Act of 2015 has 228 additional cosponsors in the House.

This legislation is also supported by: ACLU, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, the US Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform, Adobe, Amazon, AOL, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Dropbox, eBay, Facebook, The Internet Association, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo!, and more.


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