August 8, 2017
The Fourth Amendment has protected our right to privacy since its ratification in 1791. The text of the amendment reads, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” but how well do these protections hold up in the digital age?
Today, most of us are typing emails on our laptops, not scribbling a letter with a quill and inkwell. Therefore, it’s important to ensure our sensitive, digital communications are well-protected. Clearly, the Fourth Amendment transcends time and technological change, but some sinister players are pretending otherwise.
Currently, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the United States federal government may seize any citizens’ private email communications without a warrant, provided they are over 180 days old. By law, these older emails are not considered privy to a reasonable expectation of privacy under the ECPA’s Section 2703(a).
Even worse, the ECPA was enacted in 1986, years before email usage was even widespread. However, the 180-day rule doesn’t just apply to emails—every American’s texts, GroupMe chats, and Facebook messages are fair game too.
This article was posted: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 8:40 am