Of course, you’ve heard of Wiki-leaks or Hillary’s email server. Electronic privacy is becoming kind of a big deal! Most people have never heard that for more than two years Microsoft has been embroiled in a battle with the Department of Justice that has moved the need to update our severely outdated privacy law to front and center.
Here’s the short version of what’s going on: A US search warrant was served against Microsoft using the Reagan era law the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) as its force. The DOJ was demanding that Microsoft hand over email account data belonging to an individual being investigated by US law enforcement. One catch, the data was being stored in another country. The outdated ECPA created a Fourth Amendment loophole due to technological advances.
Who owns the cloud? Who controls your data when it is stored on a server in a foreign country? What laws govern?
The main problem in this case is the data center is based in Ireland. No US jurisdiction exists in Ireland without consent. The US cannot simply demand data from Microsoft and take that data from Ireland without Ireland’s permission. Microsoft was held in contempt because they would not comply with the US request to hand over the data stored in Ireland. Luckily for Microsoft, they won this landmark case appeal in July!
This case also paved the way for new legislation to modernize our system to allow the integrity of the Fourth Amendment to remain and give law enforcement needed controls to operate within. The new legislation is called the (ICPA) International Communications Privacy Act co-sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch(R-Utah) and Chris Coons(D-Del.) and Dean Heller(R-NV). Officially, the ICPA would “clarify U.S. law enforcement’s ability to obtain electronic communications around the world.”
Unofficially, it would put an end to the Judiciary Department’s potential temper tantrum. The key to the reform is balancing the need for strengthened consumer privacy in electronic communications while also recognizing and facilitating the need for law enforcement to access data, via the requirements of a warrant process, when needed. ICPA accomplishes both of these concerns, neither of which are addressed by the current law. This bill needs to be passed ASAP.
Sounds great, right? A Bi-partisan bill to fix outdated law. Wonderful. Good job guys working across the aisle for once.
Not so fast!
The DOJ won’t give up that easily. The DOJ is not to be dissuaded by a judge’s ruling. They recently filed a petition to reopen the case and force Microsoft to hand over the data. This is a blatant disregard of a US judge’s ruling and proof that the AG Lynch and Department of Justice don’t care about the privacy rights of American citizens or other nations’ sovereignty.
The case should not be reopened. How would we like it if other nations tried to seize property from our country without consent?
Wars have started over less.
Check out the letter drafted by the Senator’s expressing their views headed for Attorney General Lorretta Lynch’s desk by clicking here.
With all the talk of servers and emails you would think privacy would be important to this administration. Too bad it looks like destroying the privacy rights of individuals and other nations is all the current administration is interested in.