Friday 2 April 2010

Group calls for updating privacy framework for digital age

On March 30, a coalition of privacy groups, think tanks, technology companies and academics issued a call for updating federal privacy law for the internet age. The principles of the coalition, which maintains the website "Digital Due Process: Modernizing surveillance laws for the internet age", are to simplify, clarify, and unify Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) standards, providing stronger privacy protections for communications and associated data in response to changes in technology and new services and usage patterns, while preserving the legal tools necessary for government agencies to enforce the laws, respond to emergency circumstances and protect the public.
According to the coalition's website, the ECPA is a patchwork of confusing standards that have been interpreted inconsistently by the courts, creating uncertainty for both service providers and law enforcement agencies. The ECPA can no longer be applied in a clear and consistent way, and, consequently, the vast amount of personal information generated by today’s digital communication services may no longer be adequately protected. At the same time, ECPA must be flexible enough to allow law enforcement agencies and services providers to work effectively together to combat increasingly sophisticated cyber-criminals or sexual predators.
Members of the Digital Due Process coalition include the ACLU, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Intel, the EFF, and faculty from a number of law schools and universities.

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