When the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was signed into law in 1986, it was effective in providing privacy for American citizens. Today, however, the methods of electronic communication have changed, and today’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote to update ECPA reflects that reality.
Initially, ECPA provided privacy to users, but that privacy protection eroded as technology advanced and people began storing e-mail and documents on servers for longer periods, sometimes indefinitely. The act was adopted at a time when e-mail wasn’t stored on servers for a long time, but instead was held briefly on its way to the recipient’s inbox. E-mail more than 6 months old was assumed abandoned.
“I think Americans are very concerned about unwarranted intrusions into our cyber lives,” [Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick] Leahy said ahead of the vote.