By Elizabeth Holland
AALL joined over 80 signatories on a letter sent yesterday to President Obama advocating for a clean update to online privacy laws. The letter urges the president to support updates to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that would guarantee Americans’ full constitutional and statutory protections for electronic communications like text messages, emails, photographs, and documents stored online. The letter also warns against carving out any exceptions in ECPA that would give some government agencies warrantless access to online communications. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been actively seeking such an exception, which would substantially weaken ECPA privacy reforms.
The letter’s signatories represent a diverse coalition of interests, including libraries, consumer protection organizations, civil liberties groups, tech companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Congressional support for ECPA reform continues to grow; five new members of the House of Representatives signed as co-sponsors of the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 1852) this week, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to a whopping 205. As our letter concludes, the White House has “a rare opportunity to work with Congress to pass legislation that would advance the rights of almost every American.” We urge President Obama to support meaningful privacy reform today.