Communication-and Your Privacy- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act

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The right to privacy is one that historically has been vehemently protected in American society. For the most part this was viewed as the entering of an individuals home, reading their mail, etc. In current society there was a need for a new regulation on what communication would be deemed private and what communication would be viewed as not deserving of this protection. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act regulates individual’s privacy rights when they are utilizing any modes of electronic communication transmissions including telephones, computers, and cell phones. Even the ever-popular text messaging will fall within the purview of this law. Also new communication devices that weren’t contemplated by the original enactment of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1986 will still fall underneath its guidelines as long as they meet the electronic communications test.

Basically the act will make it illegal to utilize electronic communication in a way that is designed to convict someone of a crime or in an effort to gain information to charge someone with a crime unless there is search warrant in place. Also, a search warrant will be required if a governmental agency wishes to listen in on communications that are likely to lead to the issuance of search warrant.

The coverage of this act was weakened with the passage of the Patriot act that provided very vague guidelines as to when the government could literally violate the rights granted by the Electronic communications Act and listen in on the conversations and digital communications of private citizens. However this is only applicable in extreme circumstances. For the most part the government must go thru the proper steps and proper channels in order to listen in on a private citizens electronic communication without his or her consent. This provides citizens with the right to conduct busines and hold conversations without the fear of being listened in on and having thier privacy violated.

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