Apparently There’s an Expiration Date on Privacy–Who Knew?

There have been countless news headlines about online privacy, or lack thereof, for just about as long as I can remember.  I feel like almost every week, there is a new story about some company being hacked, information being leaked and abused, etc.  Technology is advancing so quickly that many aspects of life can’t keep up with it.  One of these aspects is legislation.  In this article on Gizmodo by Mark Jaycoxx, Jaycoxx highlights a flaw in the legal system that people should be very worried about.  The Electronic Privacy Communications Act (EPCA) is extremely outdated, and the government has been able to abuse it for too long.  This law allows the government to have access to email and social network messages that are over 180 days old without having a warrant.

Not saying that I have anything in particular to hide in my email inbox, but this just seems like a huge violation of privacy.  If instead of sending an email, you sent a paper letter to someone, the government would not be able to read it without a warrant.  I think the same level of privacy should be given for letters sent over the internet, better known as emails.  This law allows the government the ability to look at anyones emails, as long as they are older than 180 days.  What this says to me is that after 180 days, my right to privacy expires?  Yeah, that makes sense…  There is legislation in process to counter this problem, but who knows how long that will take.  Bills and laws always take a long time to get through the system and get approved, making it nearly impossible for them to keep up with technology.  Until legislation is able to keep up with technological advancements, there will probably always be some loophole allowing the government access to personal data, which I don’t think is fair.  Citizens have a right to privacy and this right should not be abused simply because the government can.


One thought on “Apparently There’s an Expiration Date on Privacy–Who Knew?

  1. You make a great point. Why is the expectation of privacy dependent on the medium of the technology? As you say, a paper letter can not be read without a warrant. Why is the same message sent electronically considered legally viewable?

    This also points out how only looking to laws without higher or autonomous ethical or normative criteria is a problem. You are defining a meaning of privacy that is NOT dependent on what the government says privacy is.

    I can imagine someone saying” but email is sent over an electronic network. ” So?

    The snail mail system is also a network like the internet. It is just a network of post offices, trucks, boats, and so on. It is a physical network instead of a digital one (even the digital one is ALSO physical- it is computers, wires or fiber, and, of course, software).

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