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ECPA Amendment Adopted

On September 20, 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment that would require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant in order to access the contents of email and other electronic communications. The amendment to the Senate version of the Video Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2471) would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which currently extends the warrant requirement only to email 180 days old or less, and does not protect documents stored “in the cloud” by remote computing services. The Committee is expected to take up the bill again when it returns after the November elections.

As the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) noted,

The vote is particularly significant because it comes in face of a flurry of letters from law enforcement entities [states and locals, FLEOA, FBIAA] that raised concerns about the warrant-for-content amendment that Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) championed and that the companies and privacy organizations who signed this letter supported as well as civil rights organizations.

EDUCAUSE is a member of the Digital Due Process coalition that has worked consistently to effect an update to the ECPA law.  (See EDUCUASE blogs of August 3, 2012 and September 14, 2012 for further information.)

EDUCAUSE will continue to monitor and report on this issue.


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