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ISPLA: ECPA Update

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    Leahy Marks 25th Anniversary Of ECPA, Announces Plan To Mark Up Reform Bill The Electronic Communications Privacy Act reached the 25th anniversary of its
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 2011
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      Leahy Marks 25th Anniversary Of ECPA, Announces Plan To Mark Up Reform Bill


      The Electronic Communications Privacy Act reached the 25th anniversary of
      its enactment. The law's lead Senate author, Senate Judiciary Chairman
      Patrick Leahy (D-VT), announced Thursday that he plans to schedule Judiciary
      Committee consideration of legislation to make needed updates to the privacy
      law before the end of the year.



      "When I led the effort to write the ECPA 25 years ago, no one could have
      contemplated the many emerging threats to our digital privacy," said Leahy.
      "But, today, this law is significantly outdated and out-paced by rapid
      changes in technology and the changing mission of our law enforcement
      agencies after September 11. At a time in our history when American
      consumers and businesses face threats to privacy like no time before, we
      must renew the commitment to the privacy principles that gave birth to the
      ECPA a quarter century ago."



      Senator Leahy introduced the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)
      Amendments Act last May. This legislation (he claims) will make commonsense
      changes to existing law to improve privacy protections for consumers'
      electronic communications, and clarifies the legal standards for the
      government to obtain this information. Since introducing the bill, Leahy
      has been working with the law enforcement community, the Obama
      administration and Senators on both sides of the aisle in advance of
      Committee consideration of the bill.



      "Before the end of the calendar year, the Judiciary Committee will consider
      legislation that I have drafted to update the ECPA and to bring this law
      fully into the digital age. I hope that all Members will join me in
      commemorating this important milestone anniversary and in supporting the
      effort in Congress to update this law to reflect the realities of the
      digital age."



      Leahy has chaired hearings in recent years on the need to update ECPA and
      was the lead Senate author of ECPA, which was enacted in 1986. The 25th
      anniversary of the signing of the privacy law was October 21. While
      portions of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act have been amended,
      Congress has not enacted comprehensive reforms to this law since the measure
      was first signed into law. Below is Senator Leahy's recent press release.



      Bruce Hulme

      ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

      <http://www.ispla.org/> www.ISPLA.org

      Real Investigators-Real Professionals-Real Representation



      Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT),
      Chairman, Senate Committee On The Judiciary,

      On the 25th Anniversary of the Enactment

      Of The Electronic Communications Privacy Act

      October 20, 2011



      On October 21, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the enactment of
      the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) -- one of the Nation's
      premiere privacy laws for the digital age. Since the ECPA was first enacted
      in 1986, this law has provided privacy protections for email and other
      electronic communications for millions of Americans who communicate and
      transact business in cyberspace.



      Today, the many rapid advances in technology that we have witnessed make
      this key privacy law more important than ever if we are to ensure the right
      to privacy. Just in the past few months, we have witnessed significant data
      breaches involving Sony and Epsilon that impact the privacy of millions of
      American consumers. We are also learning that smartphones and other new
      mobile technologies may be using and storing our location and other
      sensitive information, posing new risks to privacy.

      When I led the effort to write the ECPA 25 years ago, no one could have
      contemplated these and other emerging threats to our digital privacy. But,
      today, this law is significantly outdated and out-paced by rapid changes in
      technology and the changing mission of our law enforcement agencies after
      September 11. At a time in our history when American consumers and
      businesses face threats to privacy like no time before, we must renew the
      commitment to the privacy principles that gave birth to the ECPA a quarter
      century ago. That is why I am working to update this law to reflect the
      realities of our time.



      Before the end of the calendar year, the Judiciary Committee will consider
      legislation that I have drafted to update the ECPA and to bring this law
      fully into the digital age. My bill makes several common sense changes to
      the law regarding the privacy protections afforded to consumers' electronic
      communications. Among other things, my bill gets rid of the so-called
      "180-day rule" and replaces this confusing mosaic with one clear legal
      standard for protection of the content of emails and other electronic
      communications. This bill also provides enhanced privacy protections for
      American consumers by expressly prohibiting service providers from
      disclosing customer content and requiring that the Government obtain a
      search warrant based on probable cause to compel the disclose the content of
      an individual's electronic communications.



      The ECPA Amendments Act also gives important new privacy protections for
      location information that is collected, used, or stored by service
      providers, smartphones, or other mobile technologies. To address the role
      of new technologies in the changing mission of law enforcement, my bill also
      provides important new tools to law enforcement to fight crime and protect
      cybersecurity including -- clarifying the authority for the Government to
      temporarily delay notice to protect the integrity of a law enforcement
      investigation and allowing a service provider to disclose content that is
      pertinent to addressing a cyberattack to the Government to enhance
      cybersecurity.



      I drafted this bill with one key principle in mind -- updates to the
      Electronic Communication Privacy Act must carefully balance the interests
      and needs of consumers, law enforcement, and our Nation's thriving
      technology sector. I also drafted this bill after careful consultation with
      many Government and private sector stakeholders, including the Departments
      of Justice, Commerce and State, local law enforcement, and members of the
      technology and privacy communities.



      As the ECPA approaches its silver anniversary, I join the many privacy
      advocates, technology leaders, legal scholars and other stakeholders who
      support reform of the ECPA in celebrating all that this law has come to
      symbolize about the importance of protecting Americans' privacy rights in
      cyberspace. I hope that all Members will join me in commemorating this
      important milestone anniversary and in supporting the effort in Congress to
      update this law to reflect the realities of the digital age.





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