A guest article by Dean Chambers
Privacy is a key right for all who use the internet as well as those who communicate and exchange key data needed in business. Privacy is under attack from a power grab undertaken by the Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder, who asserted the power to take data from a server in Ireland owned a subsidiary doing business with Microsoft. Had that data been printed documents in that office in Ireland, the Justice Department would have approached the government of Ireland, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the two countries seeking a warrant to obtain that information. Data on computer servers should be subject to the same exact protections of law as data on printed document enjoys.
The answer to this judiciary power grab is the LEADS Act proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, that would protect the privacy of data against such encroachment. The ability of individuals to use the internet to communicate as well as that of businesses to communicate, invent and innovate using such “cloud servers” on the internet would be protect by enacting the LEADS Act. This legislation would restore balance under the Fourth Amendment, protecting privacy and allowing law enforcement to obtain data when authorized by a warrant from a judge or abiding by MLAT in the instance of data on a foreign server.
The privacy protections of computer data under the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) would be extended to protect the privacy of data on overseas servers. Many businesses have operations and subsidiaries around the globe involved in creating new products and services using servers around the world. The data and processes involved would be protected, giving a competitive advantage to American businesses operating around the world.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte has done some good work in the areas of copyright issues and internet piracy as well as introducing the Innovation Act to reduce frivolous patent infringement lawsuits by patent trolls. It would be very consistent with those efforts, and follow in the same direction, if Rep. Goodlatte would take the lead in helping to pass the LEADS Act in the House.
Writing recently for The Hill, Karen S. Evans writes, “LEADS will improve data privacy protections for U.S. citizens and residents while strengthening law enforcement cooperation with other nations. The bill also preserves the essential balance between security and privacy. At the same time, it will signal to our foreign partners that we are serious about improving law enforcement cooperation with them. In these times, such improvements are vital to ensuring effective functioning of our law enforcement agencies while maintaining the privacy rights of our citizens.”
The key issue involved here, for individuals and businesses using the internet and servers to store and exchange data, is such data has the same protections as any data stored and exchanged in other forms. The use of such “cloud servers” allows a level of communication in innovation not previously possible.
“It is legislation like LEADS that will help the U.S. achieve broader, much-needed ECPA reform. The goal is clear – the laws should ensure that data stored in the cloud receives the same legal protections as data stored in our homes and at work,” Evans wrote in The Hill.
The LEADS Act is extremely important legislation that really needs to be enacted into law, and I strongly urge Rep. Goodlatte to take up the lead in getting this bill passed in the House. Mr. Goodlatte has done great work in the past to ensure the protection of privacy and other rights on the internet, and this is a great opportunity to do so again by helping pass the LEADS Act. The result will be a much stronger and prosperous America if this legislation is passed.
Dean Chambers is an independent journalist and blogger who has written news and commentary articles on a wide variety of subjects. His articles have been published on Examiner.com, The Inquisitr, Conservative Firing Line and have been featured on The Drudge Report, The Rush Limbaugh Program, The Blaze and The Gateway Pundit as well as parodied by Stephen Colbert, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow.