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Editorial: This Too Should Pass

The Senate should pass a clean version of legislation that updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to protect information stored in the cloud. The original CPA was passed back in 1986, when a cloud was still a fluffy thing in the sky and tweeting was what birds did while flying there.

The baseline bill updates the ECPA to require the government to get a probable cause criminal warrant to access emails, social media posts and other online content stored in the cloud by internet service providers and other email service providers, including Google and Yahoo. In a nod to the longevity of cloud storage, the update eliminates the 180-day sunset on accessing stored communications. Previously, a warrant was not required for communications stored beyond 180 days.

Where, how and how long information is stored should not determine how or whether it is protected from prying eyes, including those of the government.

It would be hard enough for a nimble legislative body able to compromise on important issues to keep the laws abreast of changing technology. We don’t have one of those right now with Congress, so the opportunity to get needed compromise legislation passed should not be missed.

The House has unanimously passed a carefully crafted compromise bill, which for a measure dealing with the politically charged subject of online privacy and security was something of a miracle in this political climate.

The Senate should do likewise, and reject amendments that could undo the bipartisan work that has been done.