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due process

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Due process is the requirement that established laws and standards of behavior must be followed during any official act on the part of the state to ensure that the individual's rights are not infringed upon.

The concept of due process derives from clause 39 from the Magna Carta, enacted by King John of England in 1215. According to clause 39, "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."

In the United States, the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the constitution contain due process clauses. The two most commonly referenced and applied types of due process are procedural due process, which requires government representatives to follow a specified proper course of action in dealings with individuals, and substantive due process, which requires protection of such individual rights as privacy and security. Another element is the protection from vague laws, enacted to ensure that legislation cannot be phrased in an unclear manner that could enable unjustifiable legal action. Due process also serves as the basis for the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Due process is relevant to any information technology (IT) context for which the justice system has significance, including compliance, corporate governance and security. The term is frequently used in reference to individual rights to privacy and security regarding online communications. A coalition of privacy advocates, online businesses and think tanks called Digital Due Process seeks amendments to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to deal with technologies, communication patterns and volumes of user data that were unforeseen when the Act was created.

This was last updated in September 2014

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