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Senate Committee Passes ECPA Reform

Today the US Senate Judiciary Committee marked up the Video Protection Privacy Act (VPPA) which included updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) passed in 1986 (before the proliferation of email and cloud computing, etc.). The ECPA language, if adopted into law, would require a warrant before the government could snoop on the substance of our emails and information stored in the Internet cloud. Currently, law enforcement can access emails over 180 days old without a proper warrant. My previous writings on ECPA are here.

I applaud the approach from US Sen. Mike Lee who said, “I believe that email is precisely the type of private communication the Fourth Amendment was meant to protect from unjustified government intrusion. Eliminating the ‘180-day rule’ is crucial to establish the privacy protections that Americans rightly expect when it comes to their electronic communications. I am pleased that my colleagues agreed that the government should be required to obtain a warrant to access the content of our emails."

Of course most Americans expect the privacy of their personal financial information to be respected in their emails including electronic bank statements and other sensitive information. I have written previously on the importance of privacy of financial information to protect associations, free speech, etc.

More directly to free banking, it is government regulations that inhibit currency competition more than legal tender laws do anymore. Since the 1970s, Americans can own monetary gold and use gold clause contracts (I have one in my rental agreements). However the anti-money laundering laws ultimately shut down e-gold and other digital currency upstarts just as ECPA threatens the development of BitCoin which relies on the privacy of electronic communications and the storing of information in the cloud.

Since Utah has been at the forefront of state efforts to encourage sound money and currency competition, I guess it shouldn't be surprising that Sen. Lee of the beehive state shows such leadership reforming and updating ECPA in a way that respects privacy and contractual arrangements.