We live digital lives—from the videos shared on social networks, to location-aware apps on mobile phones, to log-in data for connecting to our email, to our stored documents, to our search history. The personal, the profound, and even the absurd are all transcribed into data packets, whizzing through the fiber-optic arteries of the network.
While our daily lives have upgraded to the 21st century, the law hasn’t kept pace. To date, the U.S. Congress hasn’t managed to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to acknowledge that email stored more than 6 months deserves identical protections to email stored less than 6 months. Congress also dragged its feet on halting the NSA’s indiscriminate surveillance of online communications and has yet to enact the strong reforms we deserve. Congress is even on the precipice of making things far worse, considering proposals that would mandate government backdoors into the technology we rely on to digitally communicate.