This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). It is rather perplexing, to say the least, that this piece of law still governs much of our electronic lives to this day. Technologically, the mid-80s was an entirely different generation, void of so many modern-day concerns that we now find ourselves grappling with.  And yet here we are, a quarter century later, and the government is still allowed to play by the rules set up in 1986, often to the severe detriment of our privacy.
When the ECPA was passed, the World Wide Web literally did not even exist. E-mail was unheard of. To be part of a social network you had to be, well, social. Phones even had these crazy things called wires that forced you to keep them in one place at all times.
A lot has changed since then, but not the ECPA. All week long the ACLU has been running a blog series on the anniversary of the this outdated and vastly inferior law, bringing attention to all the ways in which it fails to protect us at a time when new technology is posing more of a threat to our privacy than ever before. There have been posts on location tracking, e-mail privacy, and even a walk through memory lane to look at the computers and phones that were considered “cutting edge” back in the mid-80s.
Yesterday, though, we got some good news: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will be marking up a bill to reform the ECPA by the end of the year. The Judiciary Committee is one of the most powerful committees in the Senate, and this means an ECPA reform bill is likely to get a full vote in the committee before the end of the year.
This is welcome news, and we will keep a close eye on its progression over the next few months. To learn more, visit and read about all the ways the ECPA is affecting your privacy, and what steps we believe are needed in order to fix it. Then follow this crazy new thing called a "hyperlink" and tell Congress that it's time to modernize our privacy laws.

Is it too much to ask that our electronic communications be governed by laws written within the last quarter century?