Publication Title

University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online


communications privacy

Document Type



A response to Professor Orin Kerr's The Next Generation Communications Privacy Act, which makes a series of quiet assumptions, however, that readers may find controversial.

First, the Article reads as though ECPA exists only to protect citizens from public officials. According to its text and to case law, however, ECPA also protects private citizens from one another in ways any new act should revisit.

Second, the Article assumes that society should address communications privacy with a statute, whereas specific experiences with ECPA suggest that the courts may be better suited to address communications privacy—for reasons Professor Kerr himself offers.

Finally, the Article addresses ECPA in isolation from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which seems strange in light of revelations that our government systematically intercepts and stores its citizens’ electronic communications under FISA’s auspices

Put another way, The Next Generation Communications Privacy Act article succeeds marvelously on its own terms, but not necessarily on everyone else’s. Worse still, we do not benefit from Professor Kerr’s powerful insights regarding the issues he omits.



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