Americans Agree on at Least One Thing: Privacy Now

At a time when Americans seem to be increasingly polarized on almost every conceivable issue, a recent study found one issue the vast majority can agree on: Our electronic privacy laws are out of date.

A poll released yesterday surveyed some of the most politically diverse areas in the country – including Nevada, Arkansas, Georgia, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Southern California – and found that over 84 percent of people supported an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the federal law which protects email and other online communications from government snooping.

While ECPA was meant to put in place strong privacy protections when it was passed in 1986, the law has not kept pace with our advancing technologies and now contains a massive loophole that allows emails older than 180 days to be accessed by law enforcement without a warrant. In an age of cloud computing, this means law enforcement quite literally has access to an intimate repository of our lives – including our mistakes – stretching back years and years.

In a truly rare consensus, the poll found the demand for an update for ECPA was consistent regardless of gender, age, race, or party affiliation:

For instance, in Virginia, where 87% of all voters support updating ECPA, is supported by 88% of men and 86% of women, 84% of those under 30 and 85% of those over 65, 85% of African-American voters, 87% of white voters, 84% of Democrats, 87% of Republicans and 90% of independents.

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