EPIC Urges Massachusetts Supreme Court to Reject the Third Party Doctrine for Electronic Data Collected for a Service

October 19, 2020

EPIC has filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court urging the court to reject the decades-old third-party doctrine, which allows the government to access electronic data collected by third parties without a warrant. In Commonwealth v. Zachery, the court will decide whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data collected by transit authorities through their public transportation card. EPIC notes that individuals today are "largely unaware of the volume and sensitivity of data collected about them" by digital services that have become necessary in today's world. Although people may recognize that third parties collect their data to an extent, "they expect their data to be used only for the limited purposes associated with that service." EPIC argues that the third-party doctrine is a relic of the past that is at odds with modern technologies and urges the court to replace the doctrine with an approach based on modern privacy law principles. EPIC has previously argued against the continued use of the third-party doctrine in constitutional privacy analysis.

Support Our Work

EPIC's work is funded by the support of individuals like you, who allow us to continue to protect privacy, open government, and democratic values in the information age.