Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is the Fox Guarding the Henhouse?

Digital Due Process is an initiative set up by 40 of the major telecoms (Google, Microsoft, AOL, Intel, Salesforce, Loopt, AT&T, etc.) along with about a dozen non-profits interested in public information, in an effort to revise and update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which defines the laws that govern online privacy and how law enforcement can retrieve information from online service providers, to fit today's technology, in hopes of ensuring more privacy for users.

That's what they claim anyway. However, considering that the people behind this coalition are the very same people who are already putting into practice what they say they're going to guard against, it's a little hard to believe this is nothing more than an effort to shape the law to fit their interests. Hopefully, the non-profits involved (EPIC, ACLU, etc) will keep an eye on the foxes.  
Here are the four core principles on the DDP website:

  • A governmental entity may require an entity covered by ECPA (a provider of wire or electronic communication service or a provider of remote computing service) to disclose communications that are not readily accessible to the public only with a search warrant issued based on a showing of probable cause, regardless of the age of the communications, the means or status of their storage or the provider’s access to or use of the communications in its normal business operations.
  • A governmental entity may access, or may require a covered entity to provide, prospectively or retrospectively, location information regarding a mobile communications device only with a warrant issued based on a showing of probable cause.
  • A governmental entity may access, or may require a covered entity to provide, prospectively or in real time, dialed number information, email to and from information or other data currently covered by the authority for pen registers and trap and trace devices only after judicial review and a court finding that the governmental entity has made a showing at least as strong as the showing under 2703(d).
  • Where the Stored Communications Act authorizes a subpoena to acquire information, a governmental entity may use such subpoenas only for information related to a specified account(s) or individual(s). All non-particularized requests must be subject to judicial approval.

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