Home > General > Google, AT&T, Microsoft, Others Ally to Call for Online Privacy Reform

Google, AT&T, Microsoft, Others Ally to Call for Online Privacy Reform

Industry giants such as AT&T, Google and Microsoft have joined forces under the banner of The Digital Due Processcoalition. The group, which also includes privacy organizations, think tanks, other technology companies and academics, coalesced to issue principles for updating the key federal law that defines the rules for government access to e-mail and private files stored in the Internet cloud.

“Technology has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, but the law has not,” says Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, which has led the coalition effort. “The traditional standard for the government to search your home or office and read your mail or seize your personal papers is a judicial warrant. The law needs to be clear that the same standard applies to e-mail and documents stored with a service provider, while at the same time be[ing] flexible enough to meet law enforcement needs.”

While the Electronic Communications Privacy Act exists, and was a forward-looking statute when enacted in 1986, the group says it’s time for ECPA reform.

The ECPA specifies standards for law enforcement access to electronic communications and associated data, and it affords important privacy protections to subscribers of emerging wireless and Internet technologies, the new group says. However, as it now stands, the ECPA “is a patchwork of confusing standards that have been interpreted inconsistently by the courts, creating uncertainty for both service providers and law enforcement agencies,” the group says.

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