Congressman Goodlatte Should Provide Leadership on Passing LEADS Act

Representative Bob Goodlatte
Representative Bob Goodlatte

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.

SOPA: More Government Intrusion, Less Freedom, and an End to the Internet?

VC Note:  This article comes from Jamie Radtke, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.  Although the idea to “stop online piracy” sounds reasonable, the bill has a lot of other consequences that, whether intended or not, should trouble liberty-loving Americans.  Unfortunately, my Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) is a strong supporter and co-sponsor of this legislation.

It’s dumb to use a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito, but it’s criminal if the mosquito is sitting on someone’s head at the time.

The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, is criminal in the same way. Through SOPA, the U.S. government and private companies will be able to censor free speech by killing web sites they claim are engaging in, enabling or facilitating infringement of copyrights. The Attorney General (Eric Holder!) would have the power to kill any web site he desires by denying it access to search engines, advertisers and payment processors like Visa. By the time the web site appeals the government’s attack, it may already be out of business.

Furthermore, it is a short step from there to using the power of censorship to stop “hate speech,” “incitement,” or any other form of dissent through speech. Don’t forget, our own Department of Homeland Security issued a report not long ago called “Right Wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” in which it branded as potential terrorists:

“…those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Sound like anyone you know?

This is why I support the effort by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to stop SOPA and similar bills that restrict freedom and give government more control of the Internet.  I encourage you to visit Senator Paul’s “Don’t Censor the Net” website and lend your support to his efforts as well.

Online piracy and copyright infringement are serious issues that must be addressed.  But empowering the U.S. government and private companies to unilaterally censor and shut-down alleged abusers is a dangerous over-reaction to the problem, and will almost certainly lead to greater censorship of free speech that the government doesn’t like.

SOPA must be stopped! The question is: Where does George Allen stand on protecting our 1st Amendment rights? Does he stand with the Special Interests and power-hungry bureaucrats in Washington who support this bill, or does he stand with the individual and his right to free speech?

Update:  I just got a request to link to two additional articles regarding SOPA and Representative Bob Goodlatte.  The first is written by Karen Kwiatowski and is entitled Bob Goodlatte-Protecting Us Online? Not so Much!  The second is by Kaleb Matson and is called Bob Goodlatte-Enemy of the Internet.