Northampton, MA–(ENEWSPF)–September 27, 2011. Today the Bill of Rights Defense Committee joined the Center for Democracy & Technology and a coalition of organizations from across the political spectrum in launching a campaign urging Congress to update a 1986 law that currently allows the government to read private email and track individuals through their mobile phones.
The government should have to get a warrant from a judge before conducting electronic surveillance, just as it needs a warrant to tap ordinary phone calls or search our homes, argues the coalition, which includes ACLU, Americans for Tax Reform, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and TechFreedom.
At issue is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a 1986 federal statute that specifies standards for government surveillance. Under ECPA, the government argues it does not need a warrant to read private email or documents stored in the Internet “cloud” or to track people using their mobile phones.
Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, said, “The Fourth Amendment, and its constitutional requirement for a warrant justifying any government search, have long served our country well. And even though our government—under presidents from both parties—has ignored the Constitution for the past decade, Congress can restore it piece by piece. Our nation should finally start restoring checks and balances, beginning by restoring the authority of judges to examine and prevent illegitimate government seizures—whether online or offline—before they happen.”
“If the government wants to enter your house or seize your papers, the Constitution says it needs to get a warrant from a judge. That same rule should apply to all the email and private photos and documents you store online,” said Jim Dempsey, CDT’s Vice President for Public Policy. “And before the government turns your mobile phone into a tracking device, it should go to a judge and get a warrant. That’s our best protection against government overreaching.”
About the Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Formed in 2001, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) is a national non-profit grassroots organization. We defend the rule of law and rights and liberties challenged by overbroad national security and counter-terrorism policies. BORDC supports an ideologically, ethnically, geographically, and generationally diverse grassroots movement to protect and restore these principles by encouraging widespread civic participation; educating people about the significance of our rights; and cultivating grassroots networks to convert concern, outrage, and fear into debate and action. For more information, visit http://www.bordc.org or call (413) 582-0110.