Senator Patrick Leahy (D Vermont) has introduced a bill to amend the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The amendment would require that law enforcement officers obtain a warrant to collect various forms of electronic communication stored by a third party. Along with email messages, correspondences via Facebook, Twitter, IM, etc. would be protected from search without a warrant.
In 1986, when ECPA was originally enacted, electronic messaging was the exception rather than the norm for written communication. It was assumed that messages not stored locally by the user were no longer of value to them, and that messages older than six months stored by the service provider were considered abandoned.
As the current law stands, authorities can request user messages from third-party providers with nothing more than stating they have a probable cause to believe that the information would aid in an investigation.
Senator Leahy’s amendment bill is on the docket for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.
Were you aware that your communication was this vulnerable? Would you support Senator Leahy’s bill?