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FreedomWorks supports the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017 by Senators Mike Lee and Patrick Leahy to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of every American by amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. This outdated law was written before most people even knew what the word internet meant, and well before the world of cloud-computing and online data storage. This legislation is in dire need of an upgrade, and Sens. Lee and Leahy should be applauded for taking the lead on this important issue.
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, federal agencies do not need a warrant to search emails and other digital communications that are over 180 days old. But under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, Americans are explicitly protected from having their physical property compromised without due process. These same protections should apply in the digital world as well. Additionally, the Fourth Amendment clearly protects Americans against unreasonable search and seizure and requires probable cause prior to issuing a warrant. ECPA’s outdated standards for warrantless searches do not comport with the Fourth Amendment’s protection against warrantless searches.
FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon issued the following statement:
“In the digital world, Americans deserve the same privacy protections that we have for our papers and personal information in the physical world. Senator Lee’s efforts to reform ECPA’s outdated standards will restore the protections that our founder’s enshrined in the Constitution. I’m glad to see Sens. Lee and Leahy's continued leadership on this important issue.”