Today, the American Library Association is joining a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the law that says the government can access your email and documents in the cloud without a warrant.
ECPA is one of the Internet’s most outdated laws – it was enacted in 1986, before most people had access to a home computer or email. While the public has been rightfully outraged over reports that the NSA accesses communications without a warrant, ECPA says that hundreds of other government agencies—like the IRS, FBI, and DEA, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies—can access many of our stored emails, private social media messages, and documents in the cloud without getting a warrant from a judge. The law flies directly in the face of our Fourth Amendment values. (See the Digital Due Process website for a fuller explanation of the urgent need for ECPA reform.)
Bills to reform ECPA have gained huge support in recent months from both parties in Congress. However, legislation is now being blocked by a power grab from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is pushing for a special carve-out for regulatory agencies to get your documents from online providers without a warrant. The SEC carve-out would neuter ECPA reform.
That’s why we’re calling on the White House to break its silence and stand up for ECPA reform. We need President Obama to tell the SEC to back down in its demands for troubling new powers and make clear that the time for ECPA reform is now.
Today we ask you join us by signing this petition to the White House. It’s time for the President to join hundreds of tech companies, startups, advocates, and Members of Congress by supporting this commonsense, long overdue reform to ensure our privacy rights online.
Americans for Tax Reform
American Library Association
Center for Democracy & Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight for the Future
Internet Infrastructure Coalition
Open Technology Institute
Today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that would place restrictions on bulk phone and internet government surveillance, and permit companies to make public the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters received. This bicameral piece of legislation would rewrite section 215 of the Patriot Act—also called the “library provision”—and impose new limits on section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The bill would also require the government itself to make additional disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts. The legislation would also establish a process for declassifying significant opinions issued by the FISA Court and create an Office of the Special Advocate charged with protecting privacy at the FISA Court.
As of this writing, the legislation appears to have a high level of bipartisan support from both chambers—according to a statement from Sen. Leahy, the bill has more than 70 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 16 cosponsors in the Senate. Many of the cosponsors, including legislators Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Lee Terry, (R-NE), voted “no” on the defeated Amash amendment in July.
Help put a stop to warrantless surveillance. Please ask both your U.S. representative and senators to cosponsor this important legislation. If they have, please call and thank them for bringing more transparency and oversight to these spying programs.
Take action link: http://capwiz.com/ala/callalert/index.tt?alertid=62983561
Text of legislation: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/usa-freedom-act_-introduced-10-29-131
This Saturday, October 26th, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act, StopWatching.us, a coalition of over 100 advocacy organizations and individuals across the political spectrum (including the American Library Association) will host the largest rally against against NSA surveillance in Washington, DC. Beginning at 12PM, in front of Union Station, marchers will deliver more than a half-million petitions to Congress during the rally to remind Congressional representatives that mass surveillance is unacceptable and should be stopped. For more information on joining the rally, check out Stop Watching Us coalition website at rally.stopwatching.us.
Libraries and individuals unable to join the rally can continue to work on behalf of privacy rights by participating in Choose Privacy Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association, the fifth annual Choose Privacy Week will take place May 1–7, 2014, and provide an opportunity for libraries to educate and engage users about privacy and surveillance issues. For more information go to chooseprivacyweek.org.