Tech Coalition Targets Stone Age Privacy Laws

Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010
Enacted in 1986, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was designed to protect the electronic documents of private citizens from undue interference by law enforcement officials. In 2010, our devices are inextricably linked to our identities, and our digital footprints are bigger than ever. ECPA has remained largely the same, however.

To address the issue, a coalition is calling for major reforms to ECPA that reflect the role technology has come to play in our everyday lives. Digital Due Process (DDP)—whose members include technology giants Google and Intel, along with a host of human rights groups and research institutions—aims to update the 24-year-old legislation in 4 key areas, Google said on its blog.

The first 2 reforms focus on search warrants, which the coalition argues should be mandatory to obtain private data stored online or track locations using cell phone signals. DDP is also pushing for laws that require the government to demonstrate in court its need to monitor online conversations or request data about large groups of individuals for the purposes of criminal investigations. Patients with cancer who share their medical histories and personal information online through medical and social support networks may wish to follow these developments.

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