Intel today is joining a broad coalition of privacy groups, think tanks, technology companies, and academics to issue recommendations for updating the key federal law that defines the rules for government access to email and private files stored in the Internet “cloud.” The coalition believes there is a need to preserve traditional privacy rights in the face of technological change while also ensuring that law enforcement agents can carry out investigations and that industry has the clarity needed to innovate.
The group, Digital Due Process (www.digitaldueprocess.org), believes that technology has changed so much that current law no longer provides clear or consistent protections to data as it moves from the laptop to the systems of online service providers. The group’s recommendations focus on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Passed in 1986 and not significantly updated since, it establishes standards for government access to email and other electronic communications in criminal investigations.
To set a consistent standard in line with the traditional rules for law enforcement access in the offline world, the group recommends that the government should get a warrant issued by a judge to read email and private documents or to track a person through his or her cell phone. The group is reaching out to government officials and anticipates extended dialogue with law enforcement agencies to develop consensus on updates to the law.
Coalition members include: ACLU, American Library Association, Americans for Tax Reform, AOL, Association of Research Libraries, AT&T, Center for Democracy & Technology, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Computer and Communications Industry Association, eBay, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Google, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Integra Telecom, Intel, Loopt, Microsoft, NetCoalition, The Progress & Freedom Foundation, and Salesforce.com.