Senator Leahy Brings Back Bill That Would Require Warrants When Gov't Snoops Through Servers For Your Info
from the ecpa-reform dept
Last year, Senator Pat Leahy introduced an ECPA reform bill that was mostly good. It basically said that if the government wants to get access to your data on a server, it first needs to obtain a warrant -- something that is sorely missing today. There were some loopholes that concerned us, but for the most part, it was a very big improvement. And it went nowhere. Now, many folks around here will remember Senator Leahy for being the driving force in the Senate behind PIPA -- and you may be quick to want to dismiss his actions here. But just because he's (strongly) supported that bad bill, it doesn't mean that everything he introduces has been similarly problematic.
Leahy is trying again to move forward with his ECPA reform plan, this time attaching it to an update of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). We've discussed the VPPA before. The short version is that it was a special law that bars the release of video rental info, passed in response to Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork having his video rental history leaked. But, of course, in this modern age where people automatically stream their music playlists or book purchases to Facebook... Netflix is left out in the cold, because the VPPA doesn't allow them to do the very same thing. So, there's an update to the VPPA making the rounds that basically changes the law to let you tell the world what you streamed from Netflix last night (if you so choose to share that kind of info).
That bill has a chance to actually go somewhere, and it looks like Leahy sees it as another chance to see if he can get his ECPA reform package through the Senate. While it's no secret that I've had my differences with various Leahy proposals in the past, this is a reform that is badly needed to protect our privacy from government intrusion. Requiring a warrant to access your info in the cloud is a common sense move that's long overdue.