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On Demand

The Stored Communications Act: Current Practice and Calls for Reform

1h 1m

Created on December 14, 2016



The Fourth Amendment protects the right of the people to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."  In today's digital world, however, our "papers and effects" are increasingly stored electronically – not in the home, but in the hands of webmail hosts, social networking sites, cloud services, and other third-party service providers.  The extent to which the Fourth Amendment's protections follow our communications once we choose to store them with such third parties is not firmly established under the law.

The Stored Communications Act (SCA) was enacted thirty years ago to fill this protective gap, by providing extending statutory privacy protections for electronic data stored with electronic communications service providers.  The SCA restricts what information providers can share about their users and establishes requirements that law enforcement must meet in order to compel the production of user communications or account information.

This course covers the provisions of the SCA and how they work in practice, as well as recent controversies surrounding the statute and calls for its reform.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Understand the restrictions the SCA places on the ability of electronic communications service providers to share information about their users
  2. Understand the requirements that law enforcement must meet in order to obtain access to information protected by the statute
  3. Learn about recent litigation involving the SCA and legislative proposals to reform the statute

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