Tech Firms Unite to Demand Location and Cloud Services Privacy Reform

Google (s GOOG), Microsoft (s MSFT), AT&T (s T), (s CRM), AOL (s AOL), Intel (s INTC), Loopt and numerous advocacy groups are asking the U.S. Congress to update its electronic privacy legislation in order to address new forms of surveillance and data collecting. The so-called Digital Due Process coalition members say they want to defend themselves and their users from forced sharing of their email, hosted documents and mobile location tracking.

The law in question is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which dates back to 1986, and whose designers didn’t anticipate activities such as email, mobile location tracking, cloud computing and social networking. Citing a “murky legal landscape” about how ECPA is applied, Digital Due Process is requesting four changes:

* Government access to private hosted communications should require a search warrant.

* Government access to mobile location data should require a search warrant.

* Permission to track call and email records should require judicial review.

* Subpoenaed information has to be for a specific individual unless approved by a judge.

Though the proposed changes might seem fair enough, CNET points out that they are at odds with the Obama Administration’s statements that mobile users shouldn’t reasonably expect to keep their location private.

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