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Understanding the ECPA for Your Privacy

finger-769300_1920With the arrival of the internet, the ways in which we share information with each other have vastly changed. While important, confidential information was once simply locked in a safe to keep it from prying eyes, it is now shared freely via email and messaging between colleagues and clients–and these days, it can be difficult to know just who is taking a look at it, even when you think it’s secure.

To help keep correspondence secure when it needed to be, the government developed the ECPA, or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. However, created nearly 30 years ago, it seems that this law now does much less than it should to protect your information. Under the ECPA, the federal government can legally seize emails that have been in your inbox for more than six months. Congress understands that this needs to be updated, but certain groups are opposing the movement.

In particular, the FTC opposes governmental changes to the ECPA, stating that reforming the act too far could effectively block their access to critical information. While their intention is to maintain the safety and security of American citizens, many disagree with their hesitation, saying that reform is needed to apply true Fourth Amendment security to email inboxes as it is to regular mailboxes.

So why is this information important or relevant to you? Any reform, or lack thereof, to the ECPA could mean that your personal or confidential business correspondence is not quite as private as you may think. Reformers hope to include measures that would require government officials to obtain court orders to go through email correspondence; at the current time, nothing more than a request to the internet provider is needed to gain such access.

While a well-constructed IT system can’t block this potential breach in privacy, it’s important that you understand just what is happening behind the scenes when you send information via the internet. To learn more about current privacy legislations, or to establish or update your IT system, get in touch with the professionals at Firewall Computer Services. Give us a call at (407) 637-3430 today.