Nov 302012


Nov 212012

Net-neutrality, privacy and security continue to be at odds as the house looks to update how access is granted to the government from our personal electronic communications.   The recent Petraeus scandal rightly brings up the discussion around privacy of our electronic content just in time for a senate update of privacy legislation.

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s refresh of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act – originally written in 1986 has some interesting implications which ought to be highlighted.  Chiefly, frictionless and warrantless search and seizure of your private email communications/files may just be around the corner with should this get passed.

Here are the key changes with this legislation which risks privacy via C|Net:

  • Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.
  • Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public,” including university networks.
  • Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim “emergency” situations exist.
  • Says providers “shall notify” law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.
  • Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to “10 business days.” This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.