We’re edging close to the 30th anniversary of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
It begs the question, we wouldn’t still be using a computer that’s 30 years old but why do we use the same legislation? The ECPA remains largely unchanged, and has been criticized on a number of occasions over the last few years for being outdated and potentially dangerous.
Especially now in the age of increasing concerns regarding email privacy, intellectual property, and surveillance on top of legislative grey areas when it comes to hosted services such as cloud based email archiving. Isn’t it time electronic communication legislation was updated?
Warrantless Email Seizures
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, authorities were not required to obtain a warrant for data stored on a third party server for more than 6 months. Any longer than 6 months in storage and an email was considered to be abandoned.
Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, however, as a knock-on-affect means businesses are storing years of information on servers all over the country. In many cases this information is on privately owned servers, for which a warrant is required. However the popularity of host email services such as Gmail and Salesforce, and the innovation of hosted email archiving has left the legislation in limbo.
Unclear Legislation for Hosted Services
Take for example a document stored on your desktop. The Fourth Amendment protects that document, and anyone wishing to retrieve will need a warrant and a good argument to do so. However, under existing legislation if that document were stored in the cloud, does that make it open season?
In 2011 a federal court ruled that authorities would require a warrant to search emails and electronic data, however this ruling only applied to Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
For years officials have called for an amendment to be made to the legislation to clarify the need for warrants, as recent as last month the debate still rages on.
In the technology world, we are always upgrading and reinventing ourselves to keep up with demand. We have progressed to hosted email services and email archiving in the cloud. But it seems an upgrade in legislation is taking that bit longer.
How will electronic communication privacy legislation deal with social media, for example, if it has taken them this long to begin to tackle hosted services?
What are your concerns regarding email privacy and compliance? Have you found an email archiving solution for example that gives you peace of mind in security and compliance?
Download our FREE whitepaper to see how your business can benefit from email archiving.