Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2014 Kerry Moller
The relationship between privacy, technology, and law is complex. Thomas Jefferson’s prescient nineteenth century observation that laws and institutions must keep pace with the times offers a vision for change. Statutory law and court precedents help to define our right to privacy, however, the development of new technologies has complicated the application of old precedents and statutes. Third party organizations, such as Google, facilitate new methods of communication, and the government can often collect the information that third parties receive with a subpoena or court order, rather than a Fourth Amendment-mandated warrant. Privacy promotes fundamental democratic freedoms, however, under current law, the digital age has diminished the right to privacy in our electronic communications data.
This work explores the statutory and constitutional law protecting our right to privacy, as well as the inadequacies that have developed with the digital revolution. With commonplace use of third parties to facilitate electronic communication, our courts and lawmakers must amend current laws and doctrines to protect the privacy of communications in the digital age. To provide clarity and appropriate data privacy protections, the following clarifications and amendments should be made to the third party doctrine and the Stored Communications Act (SCA): 1) third party doctrine should only apply to context data, 2) content data should be protected by the Fourth Amendment, 3) the SCA should eliminate the distinction between Remote Computing Services (RCS) data and Electronic Communication Services (ECS) data, and 4) the SCA should require warrants for all content data acquisition.
Moller, Kerry, "The Right to Digital Privacy: Advancing the Jeffersonian Vision of Adaptive Change" (2014). CMC Senior Theses. 936.