Conservatives Press GOP to Restrict DOJ’s Foreign Cloud Snooping by Neil McCabe


An alliance of free-market conservatives is building support for a bill that would thwart the Obama administration’s bid to make foreign computers, servers and data farms subject to Justice Department search and seizure.

The alliance stepped up its pressure on Capitol Hill with the release of its May 1 “coalition letter” to Sen. Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R.-Va.), the two men who chair the judiciary committeesin their chamber. The letter calls on the chairmen to move forward on the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act.
To put things in perspective, in 1995 the email service was created by two Apple Computer exiles. In 1998, Microsoft paid $400 million for Hotmail, which today is still the second largest email service in the world.
Nine years before the founding of Hotmail, Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect email users and stored data from Watergate-style surveillance. But, in the archaic language, the bill left two gaping holes that the Justice Department is driving through with its modern surveillance truck.
First, ECPA only protects emails less than 180 days old. At the time, nobody imagined that Americans would treat their email accounts as their virtual life dashboards with some keeping emails more than 10 years or 15 years.
The second hole is that the ECPA does not recognize an expectation of privacy if an American uses a third-party email provider.
Now, what was a leash on government intrusion, has become a license to snoop. Now, that snooping goes way, way beyond what email and computer storage meant to us in 1986.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.