Person using laptop

ECPA Reform

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was adopted in 1986. Since then, technology has advanced dramatically, but the statute has not kept pace. Under ECPA, government agencies claim they do not need a warrant to search private information, such as stored email, documents in the cloud, or even the location information generated by mobile devices. Even though court cases have extended the warrant requirement to communications content and location information, the statute remains outdated. The time has come for ECPA to be reformed to ensure government agents must get a warrant before reading individuals’ private communications or tracking their movements. Congress should also consider ECPA amendments that extend the warrant requirement to sensitive metadata, strengthen notice to individuals when their data is disclosed to law enforcement, and better focus law enforcement searches on incriminating information. Read a more detailed primer on ECPA here and visit the Digital Due Process coalition website.

Recent Content

Repository of publicly sourced documents cited in CDT's report, "Legal Loopholes and Data for Dollars." White document on a dark grey background, with black text and blue & purple / orange rectangles.

Repository of Publicly Sourced Documents Cited in CDT’s Report – Legal Loopholes and Data for Dollars

Graphic for a CDT event entitled "The Patriot Act Turns 20: Taking Stock and Rethinking Surveillance Powers." Event on October 5, 2021. More info at: White and dark grey text on dark grey and white backgrounds. Headshots of the event's speakers.

Reflecting on 20 Years of the Patriot Act: U.S. Surveillance Authorities Must Still Change

The CDT logo. A white "cdt" alongside "Center for Democracy & Technology" on a light blue background.

CDT and EPIC File Amicus Brief Arguing for Protections for E-Scooter Location Information

CDT Files Brief Urging Court to Rein in ECPA Gag Orders

The CDT logo. A dark grey "cdt" alongside "Center for Democracy & Technology" on a white background.

Letter to Armed Services Committee on the Email Privacy Act

The CDT logo. A dark grey "cdt" alongside "Center for Democracy & Technology" on a white background.

Congress Has a Chance to Get It Right on Email Privacy

Read More