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digital due process

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Digital due process is an adaptation and extension of that legal requirement designed to protect the rights of individuals with regard to online communications. 

Due process, in general, is the requirement that established laws and standards of behavior must be followed during any official act on behalf of the state to ensure that the individual's rights are not infringed upon. The principle is widely applied within justice and business environments.

The cause of digital due process is actively promoted by a coalition of privacy advocacy groups, online businesses and think tanks (also known as Digital Due Process). One of the coalition's primary goals is promoting that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) be amended to deal with technologies, communication patterns and volumes of user data that were unforeseen when the Act was created in 1986. 

Cloud computing, social networking, and mobile computing are among the technological trends that have impacted online privacy and security. While the number of people online at any given moment and the amount of user data being produced have increased dramatically, digital surveillance technologies have also advanced, making it possible for government representatives to surreptitiously collect the communications data of private citizens. 

The Digital Due Process coalition states its mission as:

To simplify, clarify, and unify the ECPA standards, providing stronger privacy protections for communications and associated data in response to changes in technology and new services and usage patterns, while preserving the legal tools necessary for government agencies to enforce the laws, respond to emergency circumstances and protect the public.

This was last updated in September 2014

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