In 2013, documents revealed that the NSA, the National Security Agency, had been monitoring the electronic communications of an unknown number of individuals. Further, the digital cloud storage of photographs has come under increasing attack, leading to the release of a cache of private, often compromising, photographs of celebrities. The specter had been raised that an individual’s privacy in the digital sphere is a fiction. Most individuals consider email to be as private as the US Mail. However, federal protections regarding digital communications are not afforded the same level of privacy as physical ones.
The main federal law governing digital privacy is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986. The ECPA states that the federal government can access an individual’s personal digital information without probable cause. Digital records stored on a person’s private home computer or cell phone are covered under privacy protection, but the same does not apply to cloud storage.
A second major issue in digital privacy concerns that of social media sites. Many of these groups, like Facebook, encourage participants to enter in copious amounts of personal information in their profiles. Studies have shown that a majority of Facebook users leave their personal information exposed to the entire Internet public, seriously compromising personal information and safety.