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Groups Push For Electronic Privacy Bill Update

With Congress back for only a special guest appearance — three weeks or so — before exiting to get themselves re-elected, tech companies, advocacy organizations and others are calling for action on an update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

Specifically, TechFreedom, ACLU, Apple, AOL and a veritable host of others, are calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule a floor vote on S.607, the Leahy-Lee bill updating (ECPA). The bill was reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee last year.

The bill would require warrants for access to "the contents of a wire or electronic communication that is in electronic storage with or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by the provider." It would also put electronic communications stored in the cloud on the same footing as that stored elsewhere.

It would also require the government to notify a subscriber within 10 days that his information had been accessed, with a potential delay of that notification for up to 180 days if that notification would endanger life or safety or otherwise jeopardize an investigation.

"Congress should take action and pass a clean ECPA bill — an important step that will increase user confidence in their online services and, in turn, help promote the growth of cloud and IT services,” said the Information Technology Industry Council.

“This bill, giving electronically stored data the same privacy protections as files stored inside someone’s home, has so many co-sponsors it would overwhelmingly pass if given the chance," says Computer & Communications Industry Association president Ed Black. "It is easy to understand the broad bipartisan support for ensuring the Constitution’s checks and balances are kept up to date as technology changes. We join other tech advocates to encourage Congress to schedule a vote on the privacy updates a clear majority of Members already support.”