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Senator introduces electronic surveillance reform bill

Grant Gross | May 17, 2011
A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would update a 25-year-old law that sets the rules for law enforcement surveillance of e-mail and other electronic communications, with more legal protections for the privacy of data stored in the cloud.

"You have this mishmash of rules, and yet, it's the same content, and we all treat it as if it were the same," he said at a Tuesday debate on ECPA reform at the Brookings Institute. "Increasingly, it sits in a place where ECPA says it's unprotected."

Federal law enforcement agencies have questioned the need for an ECPA overhaul. There's a long legal history of information given to a third party not being protected with a search warrant standard, said Valerie Caproni, general counsel of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Changes in ECPA would make it more difficult for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to protect the U.S. public and maintain national security, she said at the Brookings event.

"We need to move carefully in this area," added James Baker, associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.

 

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