Tony Romm writes:
It took 140 characters to reignite the debate over law enforcement and online privacy in Washington.
Last week, Twitter persuaded a judge to make public a federal order that required it to turn over stored data for users with potential connections to WikiLeaks. Privacy hawks from the Beltway to Silicon Valley say the incident illustrates how current law does not meet the realities of the Digital Age.
Their chief target is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — the 1986 statute that governs how authorities may collect and incorporate stored e-mails, cell phone location data and other digital information into their investigations. Even companies that typically oppose each other — from AT&T to Microsoft and Google — have long agreed the law needs serious revision.
On their side are recent tangles between law enforcement and tech companies over data deemed critical to federal investigations. As a result, top members of Congress are eyeing potential reform in 2011.
Read more on Politico.
Well, c’mon, Politico, you don’t have to be a privacy “hawk” to recognize that the federal laws are outdated and have been for quite a while. Even law enforcement wants the laws updated and clarified, so at least they know what they can do and when a warrant is needed. Of course, they hope that Congress will not impose a warrant or probable cause standard while privacy advocates firmly believe that some requests should require a warrant. That all needs to be hashed out, but what we can all agree on is that revising and updating ECPA gives Congress a chance to recognize that e-commerce and global interactions require protections that are at least equal, and hopefully exceed, those offered in the EU and elsewhere.