Term Paper: Analysis of the Electronic Privacy Control Act

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¶ … amendments, if any, to the act.

Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986

The act was enacted in 1986 with the aim of widening the wiretapping applied by the federal government as well as provisions for spying on electronic communication. This act was developed to form some sort of middle ground between the genuine law enforcement and the right to privacy of the citizens of the nation. Through the act, congress tried to assure the safety of private information through the adoption of modern technology (EPIC-Electronic Communications privacy Act (ECPA)). Encompassed in the Electronics Communications Privacy Act of 1986 are several other acts including the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, and the Pen-Register Act. Wire communication that encompasses all phone conversations is similar to while oral, face-to-face communication happens in person with no expectation that the conversation is subject to interception. The Act specifies consequences for its violation as well as a provision for victims to be awarded damages as a result of a civil suit which is their right under this act. It attracts fines of up to a quarter of a million dollars and a sentence of up to half a decade. However, the country cannot be sued under this act.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 refers to two acts, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Wire Electronics Communications Act. Part of the adjustments made to the Federal Wiretap Act of 1968 was the inclusion of the computer, digital and electronic communications in addition to communications through the telephone lines covered earlier. (ECPA OF 1986).

The ECPA has been further updated to make provision for new forms of communications and technologies and also to make it easier to gain access to information in various forms. Information that falls under the protection of the ECPA includes ongoing information, in transit or stored information on computers whether that communication is oral, electronic, through email or through wire and telephone conversation.

Titles under the Act

Three titles fall under this act. These cover the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act and the Pen Register Act.

Title I is the Wiretap Act and it designates as federal crimes any acts of wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping, possession of wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping equipment, disclosure of information that has been obtained through illegal wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping and disclosure of information obtained through wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping that is authorized by a court, for the purpose of justice obstruction (Koo, 2014). The intention to intercept as well as the endeavor to do so are specifically prohibited in this act unless consented to by one of the parties, is part of a specific radio broadcast, is a part of provision or regulatory communication or has been authorized by statute. Consequences of violations here may include criminal penalties, equitable relief, and damages awarded to victims of violations through civil suits and administrative action taken against violators.

Title II is the Stored Communications Act that prohibits the clandestine access to communication at rest. Covered in this Act are email, voicemail, another electronic communications that are similar to those covered in telephone and face-to-face communications prohibitions. Under general prohibitions, it designates a federal crime as the intentional access without authorization, or exceeding given authorization in accessing a facility though which electronic communication is provided and thus obtain, change or prevent access to communication covered while in storage. All the prohibitions are based on the perpetrator consciously planning and executing the prohibited conduct. Some exceptions that are contained here include authorized access by the person providing the communication service, the user, government access, and good faith which includes court orders, subpoenas, and law enforcement requests. The consequences for breaching this Act can lead to criminal and or civil law suits as well as administrative sanctions. Some violations can attract five-year jail terms and these include those with… [END OF PREVIEW]

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