Privacy Laws Outdated for Age of Cloud Computing

Last week, privacy rights advocates charged that stronger laws protecting information stored in the cloud are long overdue, otherwise stormy weather may be imminent.Last week, privacy rights advocates charged that stronger laws protecting information stored in the cloud are long overdue, otherwise stormy weather may be imminent.

Since the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was enacted in 1986, it has had only minor updates, none of which have altered key areas of the law.

“In the 24 years since ECPA’s initial enactment, technological evolution has profoundly altered how businesses and individuals communicate in ways that policymakers could not have envisioned in 1986,” stated four non-profit organizations who are part of the Digital Due Process Coalition.

Warrants not Required to Release Information

The Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Progress & Freedom Foundation presented its statement to a federal committee during a hearing on the ECPA last Thursday.

Currently, cloud service users’ data remains unprotected if the government or law enforcement demands the provider release it to them, regardless of whether or not a search warrant is in place.

The privacy rights advocates proposed that existing exceptions to user privacy – serious cases including child pornography, kidnapping and life-threatening emergencies – should remain, but that subpoenas, court orders and warrants should otherwise be required in order for cloud computing providers to release data.

Change Needed for Cloud to Succeed

As was reported in The Hill, Microsoft legal counsel, Brad Smith, noted at last week’s hearing, “The reality today is that the ECPA increasingly falls short of a common-sense test.” Microsoft is just one of the big-name supporters of ECPA reform – AOL, Google and Salesforce have joined the cause.

“The success of cloud computing — and its benefits for the U.S. economy — depends largely on updating the outdated federal statutory regime that currently governs electronic communications privacy,” said the advocates.

Since the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was enacted in 1986, it has had only minor updates, none of which have altered key areas of the law.

“In the 24 years since ECPA’s initial enactment, technological evolution has profoundly altered how businesses and individuals communicate in ways that policymakers could not have envisioned in 1986,” stated four non-profit organizations who are part of the Digital Due Process Coalition.

Warrants not Required to Release Information

The Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Progress & Freedom Foundation presented its statement to a federal committee during a hearing on the ECPA last Thursday.

Currently, cloud service users’ data remains unprotected if the government or law enforcement demands the provider release it to them, regardless of whether or not a search warrant is in place.

The privacy rights advocates proposed that existing exceptions to user privacy – serious cases including child pornography, kidnapping and life-threatening emergencies – should remain, but that subpoenas, court orders and warrants should otherwise be required in order for cloud computing providers to release data.

Change Needed for Cloud to Succeed

As was reported in The Hill, Microsoft legal counsel, Brad Smith, noted at last week’s hearing, “The reality today is that the ECPA increasingly falls short of a common-sense test.” Microsoft is just one of the big-name supporters of ECPA reform – AOL, Google and Salesforce have joined the cause.

“The success of cloud computing — and its benefits for the U.S. economy — depends largely on updating the outdated federal statutory regime that currently governs electronic communications privacy,” said the advocates.

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