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July 26, 2017

ECPA Modernization Critical for Protecting Fourth Amendment Rights

  Institute for Policy Innovation

DALLAS - The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) commends Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, for introducing the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017, which fixes a glaring hole in the Fourth Amendment privacy protections Americans should enjoy on their electronic data.

“This legislation solves a significant problem and embodies the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship called for this week by Sen. John McCain,” said IPI president Tom Giovanetti. “Just last year, ECPA reform passed the House of Representatives in a rare unanimous vote. Right now, when Congress needs to demonstrate that it’s capable of passing important, bipartisan legislation, the Leahy-Lee bill is just what the doctor ordered.”

ECPA modernization would fix a major oversight in the 1986 ECPA legislation, which considered electronic data more than 180 days “abandoned,” and thus subject to government seizure without a warrant. The Leahy-Lee legislation would eliminate that unjustified digital exception to what is considered baseline Fourth Amendment protection for analog documents.

“There is no justification for any Senator or Member of Congress to stand in the way of this important legislation, as has unfortunately happened in the past,” said Giovanetti. “It shouldn’t be controversial for Congress to give assent to applying Fourth Amendment protections to the digital realm.”

The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is an independent, nonprofit public policy organization based in Dallas. IPI president Tom Giovanetti is available for interview by contacting Erin Humiston at (972) 874-5139, or  


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