June 6, 2012
Even without CISPA on the books, the federal government can still use antiquated legislation to leer into the personal communications of Americans. One judge, in fact, says that thousands are approved each year.
It’s been more than a quarter of a century since the US Congress authorized the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, but the incredibly outdated legislation is still used each and every day to let federal agents find out personal and private information by combing through emails, texts and any other form of online correspondence. Kade Crockford is a privacy rights coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union and is fighting to make sure that ECPA is laid to rest.
Crockford says she was only three years old in 1986 and tells RT, “If you were my age at the time, cell phones didn’t really exist.” What was a reality, however, was ECPA. Unlike cell phones and the troves of technological updates that mobile devices have seen over the last few decades, though, ECPA remains more or less identical to its original incarnation.
When ECPA was first approved by Congress, critics couldn’t find all that much to worry about as “email” was still a subject impossible for most Americans to grasp. Down the road, however, Crockford says that advances with the Internet are creating all news reasons for computer users to be concerned.
“People didn’t use email in the way that we do now. Web chat didn’t exist. Storing our information in the digital cloud was completely unheard of. These are things that we all do now every day. We live most of our lives in the digital realm. Our banking information is all online. Increasingly out health records out online. We communicate very, very important information via email, via direct message on services like twitter, via web chat, via Skype,” says Crockford. “Congress needs to update ECPA.”