I’d like to recommend Sonia Arrison’s recent article on the need for updating the Electronic Privacy Communications Act (ECPA). She makes a good case why citizens should feel a bit worried about the ability of government to invade their privacy when they keep data in the cloud. And citizens are customers, so online businesses are worried if people may use less of their services. But here’s another angle for why we need to update ECPA…it’s to promote online safety. From an excellent analysis by Becky Burr, ECPA reform:
Would establish uniform, clear, and easily understood rules about when and what kind of judicial review is needed by law enforcement to access electronic content; and Would, by clarifying the applicable rules, enable business to respond more quickly and with greater confidence to law enforcement requests and to avail themselves of hosted productivity technology.
Right now the law is muddled, and online services have a hard time determining legitimate requests from those that are overreaching. When the law is clarified, businesses and law enforcement can (with appropriate legal process) share information that can help find sexual predators and other online miscreants.