Senate Ponders Update of Electronic Privacy Act

Following the lead of technology companies and public policy advocates, the Senate Judiciary Committee will soon begin investigating ways to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to adjust for advances in social networks, cloud computing and mobile devices.

As Enterprise Networking Planet reports, chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will lead the legislative charge even though it will be very difficult to pass any significant legislation in this election year.

But the statute does bring to light a significant friction between the privacy advocates and technology vendors backing reform and some members of the law-enforcement community, who have warned that strengthening ECPA protections could undermine criminal investigations and prosecutions.

One of the central goals of Digital Due Process, a coalition working for ECPA reform, is to bring the rules for government access to data stored in the cloud in line with the protections governing access to files on a user’s PC.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday pledged to begin work drafting an update to an aging statute governing the security and privacy of electronic data that critics say has fallen out of step with cloud computing and the new ways that consumers and businesses store and access information.

At a hearing this morning, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that committee staffers hope to begin developing draft language for an overhaul of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a bill that a broad coalition of technology companies and advocacy groups are pushing to revise.

“We will start work on this very soon,” Leahy said. “This is going to a priority — bringing this up to date — in this committee.”

Read the full story at Enterprise Networking Planet:

Senate Panel Mulls ECPA Update for Cloud Era

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