WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: About the LEADS Act for Protecting Our Privacy Rights

Privacy can suddenly become a big deal in a marriage. For example, some people think bathroom time is private time. Others do not. If those two people marry…privacy can be a big deal. They never ask about that in pre-marital counseling. Don’t even start about the correct way the toilet paper should come off the roll. I’ll admit it. I think a person should be afforded privacy while in the can. Some things are just meant to be done alone. Many agree with me, but many do not. Privacy can become something to fight about. The one who likes his/her privacy may find themselves sneaking around, locking bathroom doors, even waiting till the intruder is sound asleep to sneak off to the head for a little peace and quiet as the nature takes its course.

Privacy can be a big deal in a country or a nation as well. Remember a guy named Edward Snowden? Some call him a hero, others a traitor. He’s hiding out in the Kremlin somewhere, but I’ll guarantee Putin will not let him near a laptop. Snowden thought it would be cool to bust the government for collecting data on just about everybody. His story is still playing out. We haven’t heard the last of him.

I would submit that all the fine customers of Ashley Madison wish things were a little more private on the internet. Several million folks, mostly men, felt the burn as some hackers thought it would be funny to show how “Not Private” things were at the cheat-on-your-spouse web site. Some conspiracy theorists took it so far as to suggest the divorce lawyer lobby was behind that hack and privacy breach.

The point is, privacy is a big freaking deal! I’m sure we can count on President Obama to protect our liberties and our privacy…right? Well…as a candidate for president in 2008, then Senator Barack Obama was all for privacy. He bashed the Republican Party for its record on civil liberties and privacy declaring boldly, “I have said, repeatedly, that there should be no contradiction between keeping America safe and secure, and respecting our Constitution.” But once being elected he quickly morphed into a President who Senator Obama would be ashamed of. President Obama led a Justice Department’s continual assault on the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

I recently read an article that seemingly no one else noticed about the LEADS ACT (Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act). Sounds exciting doesn’t it. Well, it’s not. It’s boring, until it’s your privacy that’s wronged. It’s no big deal until someone barges right into the bathroom while you’re sitting there with your pants down around ankles. If you’re a person who values privacy you know how uncool that is. Well, the LEADS ACT is the only piece of legislation that will do anything to strengthen our constitutional rights and protect our freedoms.

Here’s the short version of what triggered this awesome step in the right direction.

DOJ v. Microsoft
The Department of Justice opened an investigation into a drug-running operation; it demanded that Microsoft turnover emails housed in Ireland on a data server owned, not by the company, but by its Irish subsidiary. Since the material is housed abroad and pertains to an Irish citizen, the federal government has no jurisdiction to demand the material. The company offered to comply with DOJ’s demands but only if the government followed the same rules that would apply if they were demanding paper documents, as opposed to an electronic form of communications. Congress has never authorized the Department of Justice to issue warrants for material outside the reach of U.S. territory but little things like warrants and constitutional procedures now take a backseat to the ever growing demands and power of the surveillance state.

In a case that has implications for all Americans, and for anyone willing to use an American company to house their data in the cloud, the issue ended up in court with the DOJ arguing, “What’s yours is mine.”

Private servers have been in the news a lot lately…thanks Hillary. Surprisingly, Hillz is all for privacy.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is stepping forward in protecting privacy in the digital age while setting parameters for the government to get the information they need in a criminal investigation.

The LEADS ACT is bipartisan. One of the bill’s Democratic supporters, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) succinctly described the thrust of the issue, saying, “Law enforcement agencies wishing to access Americans’ data in the cloud ought to get a warrant and just like warrants for physical evidence.”

The government’s position that … warrants do apply abroad puts U.S. cloud providers in the position of having to break the privacy laws of foreign countries in which they do business in order to comply with U.S. law. This not only hurts our businesses’ competitiveness and costs American jobs, but it also invites reciprocal treatment by our international trading partners.”

Privacy in the bathroom, in your emails, and abroad are a big deal. Here is an opportunity to protect it. Will congress protect liberty or destroy it? Don’t answer that, but maybe ask your senator where he/she stands on the LEADS ACT if you happen to run into them at the grocery store. They may look at you like they’ve never heard of it before; tell them privacy is a big deal.

Share if you think the LEADS Act is a needed piece of legislation.

About the author: S.C. Sherman

S.C. Sherman grew up a farm kid in rural Iowa. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Communications Studies. Steve is a business owner, and recently ran for Iowa State House of Representatives.. S.C. enjoys political commentary and great stories. He has written three fiction novels found at scsherman.com. He currently lives with his wife and four children in North Liberty, Iowa.

View all articles by S.C. Sherman

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