For the past nine months, revelations about the NSA's intrusive surveillance programs have dominated headlines and the public's attention. However, the NSA is not the only agency claiming broad powers. An outdated law - the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) - says that hundreds of other government agencies can get your email without a warrant.
Fortunately, legislation has been proposed to strengthen online privacy. To achieve reform, Congress needs to hear from you now.
ECPA, enacted in 1986 before most people owned a computer or had email, says that government agencies like the IRS, FBI, and even local government agencies can access stored emails and documents in the cloud without first getting a warrant from a judge. This flies directly in the face of our Constitutional values. It is imperative to update ECPA so that our email and documents in the cloud have the same protections as our postal mail and the papers we store in our desks.
That's why Congress is considering the Email Privacy Act, which would require all government agencies to obtain a warrant for our online communications. The bill, HR 1852, has picked up 180 cosponsors in both parties. To pass, it needs 218 votes.