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Government Surveillance

Utah Is Key to Reforming Digital Privacy Law

CDT is joining a politically diverse coalition to launch, a campaign to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

ECPA was passed in 1986. It sets out rules for when the government can access our digital information – and it’s woefully out of date.

Under ECPA, the government says stored email, other information in the cloud, and location data generated by mobile devices does not receive full Fourth Amendment protection – meaning the government can access it without a warrant. Postal mail and phone calls, on the other hand, receive full Fourth Amendment protection. The distinction makes no sense.

On November 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee could take a big step toward bringing privacy law into the 21st Century when it votes on ECPA reform.

This is a critical vote. Bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee is needed to advance ECPA reform in the Senate. The best hope for Republican support on the Judiciary Committee likely rests with Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. However, the Senators need to hear from their constituents – especially from those in the Utah tech community who are affected by this outdated law. provides phone numbers for Members of the Judiciary Committee. If you care about digital privacy rights, please take a few moments before November 15 to call and ask your Senators to support strong ECPA reform and to oppose any weakening amendments.