On Thursday, a panel commissioned by President Barack Obama to examine the implications of “big data” concluded that cloud and e-mail content should be constitutionally protected—a recommendation that Congress is seemingly unwilling to adopt.
The panel—which included White House counselor John Podesta, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the President’s Science Advisor John Holdren, the President’s Economic Advisor Jeff Zients, and other senior officials—recommended that an aging law be changed to require that authorities obtain warrants to seize cloud-based content and e-mail. Such data, when it is stored on third-party servers and older than 180 days, is not constitutionally protected.
“The laws that govern protections afforded to our communications were written before e-mail, the Internet, and cloud computing came into wide use. Congress should amend ECPA [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act] to ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that afforded in the physical,” the panel concluded.
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