Press Releases

Campaign Calls on Chairman Goodlatte to Pass ECPA Reform

Grassroots effort points spotlight at Chairman’s prior inaction, urges Congress to pass Email Privacy Act immediately

Press contact: Mark Stanley, 202.681.7582
Email: [email protected]

Today, Demand Progress, Free Press Action Fund, ACLU, Digital Liberty, EFF, Fight for the Future, The Other 98% and RootsAction launched a grassroots mobilization effort at ahead of next month’s anticipated House Judiciary markup of the Email Privacy Act (HR 699).

The campaign differs from previous grassroots efforts around ECPA reform by pointing a spotlight at House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s role in the years-long delay when it comes to moving reform legislation, as well as Goodlatte’s unique ability as chairman to move the Email Privacy Act toward passage this session, or to let the massively popular and bipartisan bill continue to languish.

The Email Privacy Act has been cosponsored by 310 Representatives—which is well over two-thirds of the House—including nearly 200 Republicans. Of the 39 Members of the Judiciary Committee, 29 are already cosponsors, including 16 of the 23 Republicans on the committee. The Chairman has become increasingly isolated in his party and even in his own committee when it comes to support for the bill.

Until now, Goodlatte has been a major roadblock when it comes to passing the legislation. However, earlier this month Goodlatte committed to bringing the Email Privacy Act to a markup in March, though a specific date has yet to be set. The campaign based at will drive tens of thousands of contacts to Chairman Goodlatte and Congress, asking for a speedy passage of the Email Privacy Act, as well as a rejection of any amendments that would weaken or water down the privacy protections in the bill.

“This campaign will show how great the public support for this bill is, and how tired the public is of seeing this much-needed reform fail to pass Congress after Congress,” said Demand Progress Communications Director Mark Stanley. “The Email Privacy Act has reached unprecedented levels of popularity. Now, it’s up to Chairman Goodlatte to do his part and to help show all those disillusioned by Washington’s perceived do-nothingness that Congress can come together and pass bipartisan legislation that serves the public interest and safeguards our most valued civil liberties.”

“The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was written in 1986, and that’s a problem,” said Free Press Action Fund Government Relations Manager Sandy Fulton. “The Internet was still in its infancy then and cloud storage wasn’t even a remote concept. While Congress intended to put in place strong privacy safeguards, they couldn’t have imagined the many ways technology would advance over the next 30 years. As a result, the statute is now woefully out of date, leaving some of our most personal information vulnerable to government snooping just because it’s stored in the cloud — on someone else’s servers. The Email Privacy Act would close this dangerous loophole and protect our online content from warrantless surveillance.”

“In today’s world, Americans’ most sensitive information – be they love letters or medical records – are in emails, stored in the cloud, or part of other online communications,” said ACLU Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani. “Thus, the time is now for Congress to update our privacy laws, and ensure that this personal information does not continue to be vulnerable to warrantless government intrusion.”