US Bill in Question

The 1986 Electronic Privacy Communication Act, in the United States, is currently the subject of much debate as lawmakers are looking to amend it in order to take into account the data stored in the cloud. The amendments would mean that information stored in the cloud would require a warrant by the police who want access to the information from either the managed hosting provider or the individual.

Such an amendment is expected to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Currently, officers of the law only need a subpoena, issued by a prosecutor, to search cloud based information and data, whether that’s searching through someone’s emails or documents that are shared on sites such as Google. The passing of the bill by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, would however require an officer of the law to obtain a search warrant issued by a judge in order to then gain access to whatever data or information they required.

Greg Nojeim, senior counsel and director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Project on Freedom, Security & Technology, has been quoted saying the following: “The bill pending at the Senate Judiciary Committee to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is long overdue.”

He went on to add: “Requiring a warrant for email and other information stored in the cloud would provide privacy to consumers, certainty to law enforcement, and clarity to the companies that receive law enforcement demands.”

However, there are groups that oppose the requirement of a warrant to search through data saved within the cloud. This battle comes as courts have continued to argue over whether law enforcement should be allowed to keep tabs on an individuals’ mobile phone without a warrant.

Representatives of a number of investigative, legal and police agencies have, via the National Sheriffs’ Association, stated in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the following: “The crime scene of the 21st century is filled with electronic records and other digital evidence.”

Do you think such a bill should be passed to allow those responsible for the enforcement of the law to need a warrant to access data and information on the cloud?

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