Today, a host of organizations from across the political spectrum and including civil society, companies, and academics are calling for people to sign a White House petition encouraging ECPA reform. CCIA is proud to join in that effort. The petition can be found here. Go ahead and sign it.
The Digital Due Process Coalition has been working on ECPA reform for a long time, why is this petition so important? Because right now we’re close to moving a good bill through the Senate. This bill has already passed out of the Judiciary Committee on a voice vote, and a large portion of Senators are prepared to let it sail past the Senate floor. A small number of Senators, however, are blocking it based on the claims of Executive branch administrative agencies, in particular the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is claiming that fixing ECPA will harm their ability to conduct investigations (because administrative agencies don’t enforce criminal laws, they don’t have access to criminal warrants, only civil subpoenas). They want the ability to force service providers to turn over users’ data, using a warrant-like process.
This is a bad idea because civil actions are not criminal actions for a reason. In civil litigation, the two parties work together to exchange the information relevant to the case and if something can’t be agreed upon, a judge is consulted. There are questions of relevancy and privilege that just aren’t considered in criminal cases. Placing a service provider in the middle of that case is bad for users, companies, and the Fourth Amendment.
That is why it is so important to let the Administration know that we are in favor of the clean Leahy-Lee ECPA reform bill in the Senate. The White House has certainly heard from the SEC on this issue, we need to make sure they hear from users too. It only takes a few second to sign the petition and its incredibly important to protecting privacy on the Internet.