Thursday, April 25, 2013

More momentum toward digital due process


Posted by David Lieber, Privacy Policy Counsel


Three years ago, Google helped found a coalition of technology companies, privacy advocates and academics to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986. Today the Digital Due Process coalition includes more than 90 members, all devoted to bringing this federal law in line with how people use the web today.

ECPA no longer reflects the expectation of privacy that Google users and other users of the Internet reasonably have. For example, an email may receive more robust privacy protections under ECPA depending on how old it is or whether it has been opened. The privacy of electronic communications should not hinge on such arbitrary factors.  

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee took a significant step toward updating ECPA by passing legislation that would require the government to obtain a warrant in order to compel service providers to disclose the content of emails and other electronic content that they store on behalf of users. The bill replaces a confusing array of distinctions that ECPA makes with a bright line, warrant-for-content rule.

This is an important moment for all Internet users, and we’re deeply appreciative of Senators Leahy and Lee’s leadership in advancing this bill. We’ve also been working closely with the House Judiciary Committee on this issue and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to update ECPA.

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