Americans are creating vast amounts of information about themselves every day. In emails, documents in cloud computing, instant messages, and social networking, the vast majority of this information lives today on servers not controlled by those users. This makes the data more secure, available from anywhere the Internet reaches, and cheaper to store. It also, however, makes it much easier for the government to spy on a citizen, under outdated laws and interpretations of the Fourth Amendment.

Since the late 1960s, Fourth Amendment doctrine has trended toward an interpretation that says that information placed in the care of a third party is not protected by the warrant requirement. The law written to address this interpretation’s effect on the Internet was passed in 1986, and is called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. It is woefully out of date and prohibitively complex. As an example, it allows the government to demand emails stored with a third party (such as web email providers like Google’s GMail or Yahoo!’s email) without a warrant in most situations. A few lower level federal courts have found this approach to be counter to the Fourth Amendment, but the Supreme Court has not addressed the issue.

Until it does, Congress should step in and amend ECPA. CCIA is a member of the Digital Due Process coalition, a group of companies, non-profit organizations, academics, and former prosecutors dedicated to convincing Congress to revisit the law. The major goal of the coalition is to make sure that the law gives warrant protection to all content whether it is an email in a web service, a document on a cloud drive, or in some future technology or service not yet invented.

Most Recent Statements&Findings:

Leahy, Sensenbrenner Introduce USA Freedom Act To Address Surveillance Issues

Washington – The Computer & Communications Industry Association applauded the introduction of the USA FREEDOM Act today by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. The new legislation includes important provisions to increase transparency, allows companies to report more statistical information about the number of demands they receive, and reforms the FISA…

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Internet, innovation at the centre of major WTO event

The WTO public forum is perhaps the most visible result of the WTO’s revised public relations strategy following its tumultuous 1999 Ministerial Conference in Seattle. In recent years, it has become a major event in the international trade agenda as it transformed from a somewhat academic public outreach exercise to a well-attended ‘marketplace of ideas’ where industry, civil society and Governments discuss trade challenges in an open and constructive environment.

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CCIA Signs Joint Letter Asking for Surveillance Transparency Legislation

The Computer & Communications Industry Association joined six dozen companies and associations in a joint letter to House and Senate Judiciary Committee leaders today to ask to move legislation to bring greater transparency to government surveillance programs. The letter praises provisions of both S. 1452, the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013, and H.R. 3035, the Surveillance Order Reporting…

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