Microsoft & Google Joined US Privacy Group to to get outdated US privacy laws revamped

Written by Mohammed Farooq

Topics: News

SAN FRANCISCO: Internet giants including Microsoft and Google have joined US privacy groups and academics in a campaign to get outdated US privacy laws revamped for the Internet Age.

“Technology has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, but the law has not,” said Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) public policy vice president Jim Dempsey.

CDT was part of a freshly announced Digital Due Process Coalition that petitioned federal law makes in Washington to give personal information stored online privacy guards on par with letters or pictures kept in homes. The traditional standard for the government to search your home or office and read your mail or seize your personal papers is a judicial warrant, Dempsey said in a conference call with reporters. The law needs to be clear that the same standard applies to email and documents stored with a service providers. Coalition members took aim at an Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) enacted in the United States in 1986, before many of the Internet technologies woven into today’s lifestyles. 1986 was light years ago in Internet terms and it is time to update ECPA Dempsey emphasized. “Technology has changed dramatically, particularly with the emergence of location-based services and the transfer of massive amounts of data into the cloud.

The popularity of smart phones with global satellite positioning features has led to a hot trend of companies offering services that play off of where people are any given moment. The recent economic meltdown added momentum to a shift toward people using software programs hosted as services in the Internet Cloud instead of buying and installing applications on machines.

People should need warrants signed by judges so to get email, pictures, locations information or other personal data stored online for people at Internet firms, the group contented. The law currently eliminates need for warrants in cases of messages left in Web-based email accounts for more than 180 days, according to Dempsey. The coalition wants EPCA to require court warrants to compel Internet services to reveal location information or for blanket requests regarding identities of large numbers of subscribers.

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