The Champion

April 2012 , Page 12 

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Report Addresses Government Access to Private Records Held by Third Parties (NACDL News)

By Jack King

Read more NACDL News columns.

At the midwinter board meeting in Ft. Lauderdale on Feb. 12, NACDL’s Board of Directors approved and adopted a white paper report on law enforcement access to third-party records.

When Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act in 1986, the statutes looked toward a technological future, intending to protect individual privacy rights in electronic communications. However, voicemail, email and cellular communications had just begun evolving, and the legislation quickly became outdated. Today’s technologies were not even conceived of when Congress considered the legislation and when the Supreme Court created the “Third-Party Doctrine.” For instance, Congress created the “180-day rule,” protecting email and voicemail younger than 180 days by requiring police to obtain a warrant based on probable cause to access the content of the email, but requiring a legal standard less than probable cause to obtain the content of emails ol

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