An opinion piece by Leslie Harris of CDT appeared on ABC. Among Harris’s recommendations for updating existing privacy laws:
A core principle of an updated privacy law is that personal information stored in the cloud should have the same protections as information stored on an individual’s computer. The government should be required to obtain a warrant issued by a judge in order to read someone’s e-mail, regardless of whether it is in transit on the network or stored on a server and regardless of whether the recipient has read it yet or not.
A reasonable update would also set an appropriate standard for the release to a governmental entity of any subscriber identifying information (i.e. name, address, account number), protecting against fishing expeditions by making it clear that court orders must be specific to a particular account in connection with an ongoing investigation.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is location information, which is currently causing confusion among the courts. All of our cell phones and other mobile devices are constantly reporting our location. A full record of our movements is available to government agents, both in real-time or retrospectively over weeks or months. ECPA does not make it clear what standard applies to this information. Some courts have ordered its release under a weak standard.
Read the entire commentary on ABC.