Chris Soghoian writes:
Electronic communications privacy law in the United States is hopelessly out of date. As several privacy groups have noted, the statute that governs when and how law enforcement agencies can obtain individual’s private files and electronic documents hasn’t really been updated since it was first written in 1986.
Over the past year, privacy groups, academics and many companies have gotten together to push for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). These stakeholders have lobbied for reform of this law, and in turn, both the House and Senate have held hearings on various issues, ranging from cloud computing tocellular location data.
Of course, complaints about the existing statute are not limited to those wishing to protect user privacy — law enforcement agencies would very much like to expand their authority. However, as I document in this blog post, rather than going to Congress to ask for new surveillance powers, the Department of Justice, and in particular, the US Marshals Service, have simply created for themselves a new “roving” order for stored communications records.
Let that sink in for a second. Rather than wait for Congress to give it new authority, the Department of Justice has instead just given itself broad new surveillance powers.
Read more on Slight Paranoia.