There are some things that we just need to fight for here in Kansas. One of them is our right to privacy. Right now, Congress is considering a bill known as the E-mail Privacy Act. This Act, referred to as HR 1852, was created by both Republicans and Democrats and would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
The ECPA was passed initially passed in 1986, before email was widely used. Further, the idea of “cloud storage” was nothing more than a far-off dream. Without this new legislation, governmental entities such as the NSA (National Security Agency), the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), and also local agencies would have the right to gather email records and cloud storage documents without first obtaining a warrant.
The new E-mail Privacy Act would mandate that these agencies and others must first obtain the proper warrant before having access to emails and cloud storage. Those who support the bill are hoping that the law gets passed sooner rather than later. Because of this, many advocates have started asking citizens to write to their representatives and ask that they support this important piece of legislation.
As opposed to many other pieces of legislation, the E-mail Privacy Act affects every single individual. This is true whether you use email or not. The thing is, information about you has most likely been passed through online communication and it's vital that you realize this fact. And then there are the people that use email, cloud storage, and social media on a daily basis. That's right. Social media. If this bill does not get passed, governmental agencies would technically have access to your personal facebook messages without a warrant!
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been working with fifteen other privacy advocates and companies to pass HR 1852. According to the EFF website, the passage of this bill would accomplish one of its four goals of the Digital Due Process Coalition. This Coalition is a group of “tech companies, start-ups, privacy advocates, and think tanks working to update ECPA to ensure that laws continue to protect the rights of users as technologies advance and usage patterns evolve.”
As I noted above, when the ECPA was first created, there was little electronic information to really protect. This was especially true for individual, private citizens. However, in the past ten years or so, there has been a significant increase in technology and the majority of people rely on computers, tablets, and cell phones every single day. These devices aren't just used for games or making phone calls, people are creating work reports, personal documents and other private information on these machines. It is only right that this data is protected.
If we don't make it clear to Congress that we want HR 1852 to be passed, it will be difficult to have any similar type of legislation passed in the future. What do you think? Do you consider the E-mail Privacy Act to be a crucial law? Must it be passed to protect our privacy?