The Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) is federal legislation designed to protect against unlawful access to and disclosure of certain information from service providers. Elements of the civil causes of action are particularly definition-dependent, but civil violations of the SCA come in three flavors:
Stored Communications Act
Where one intentionally accesses without authorization a facility (think building, not cell phone) through which an electronic communication service is provided or intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility, thereby obtaining, altering, or preventing authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system.
Where a pubic electronic communications service provider knowingly divulges to any person or entity the contents of a communication while in electronic storage by that service.
Where person or entity providing remote computing service to the public shall not knowingly divulge to any person or entity the contents of any communication which is carried or maintained on that service on behalf of, and received by means of electronic transmission from (or created by means of computer processing of communications received by means of electronic transmission from), a subscriber or customer of such service or solely for the purpose of providing storage or computer processing services to such subscriber or customer, if the provider is not authorized to access the contents of any such communications for purposes of providing any services other than storage or computer processing.
Quite a mouthful, but “generally” the act is making actionable hacking-type conduct and disclosures which are not consented-to or authorized. Because remedies for SCA violations include a statutory penalty of $1,000 per violation, the SCA is very often at issue in class action lawsuits with large service providers.