Testimony of Jim Dempsey before the House Committe on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties: ECPA Reform

Justice Brandeis famously called privacy “the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people.”  The Fourth Amendment embodies this right, requiring a judicial warrant for most searches or seizures,  and Congress has enacted numerous laws affording privacy protections going beyond those mandated by the Constitution.

In setting rules for electronic surveillance, the courts and Congress have sought to balance two critical interests: the individual’s right to privacy and the government’s need to obtain evidence to prevent and investigate crimes, respond to emergency circumstances and protect the public.  More recently, as technological developments have opened vast new opportunities for communication and commerce, Congress has added a third goal: providing a sound trust framework for communications technology and affording companies the clarity and certainty they need to invest in the development of innovative new services.


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