The San Jose Mercury News has an editorial about electronic privacy laws, which have been in the news as numerous groups have called on Congress to update the laws and lawmakers have announced hearings on the issue:
In 1986, cell phones were an expensive novelty, GPS tracking was only a dream, texting had yet to be invented and only 30 million computers were in use in the United States. That’s the year Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, establishing the standards in effect to this day for government access to e-mail and other electronic communications in criminal investigations.
The law has been changed only slightly over those 24 years and desperately needs an overhaul. The only people defending the status quo are those still using their Apple Mac Plus, which also was introduced in 1986. […]
The law now is a muddle of inconsistencies that befuddle service providers and law enforcement alike. […]
But for routine criminal investigations, Congress should give private electronic information and communications the same level of protection as paper ones, regardless of the platform in which they were created or the time that’s elapsed since they were sent.