Why Don't the Legal Standards That Govern the Privacy of Letters Apply to Emails?

Should your emails have the same legal protection as your letters?


We assume the answer is yes, but the real answer is no. As the New York Times points out, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act gives law enforcement officers a much easier path to your private online life than your offline one. As a greater share of our affairs have moved to the Internet, this means that there has been a mass erosion of civil liberties sanctioned by a law passed back in 1986 when almost no one had email and the Web had yet to be invented.

For example, the Feds don't need a warrant to read emails that are more than 180 days old, whereas if you had letters in your home, they'd need a court order. Leaving aside the time element, which seems plucked from thin air, it seems impossible to justify why one mode of communication would receive greater legal protection than another. In this case, the law should not take the medium for the message. 
Presented by

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Playing An Actual Keyboard Cat

A music video transforms food, pets, and objects into extraordinary instruments.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

Video

The Man Who Built a Forest Larger Than Central Park

Since 1979, he has planted more than 1,300 acres of trees.

More in Technology

Just In