Updating Internet Privacy

Bloomberg reports that Microsoft, Google, and other firms interested in providing computing services in the cloud, have testified before Congress urging that the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act be updated.

At the time that law was passed, email was a new and wondrous thing used by only a few. Generally, only academicians, researchers, and government employees had access to the internet. Text email, newsgroups, telnet, and FTP were the means of access. The net provided transportation, but storage was usually on local servers. Privacy protection for locally stored data was stronger than for information in transit or at remote servers. From the article:

The law provides different levels of protection for electronic messages, he said. E-mails stored for less than 180 days have more protection than older messages. A document stored on a PC’s hard drive has greater protection that a similar item saved on a “cloud,” he (Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith) said.

I think the law sorely needs updating.

I remain skeptical of “cloud computing” having significant utility for general or routine storage of personal and private data, except for enterprise level users, remote collaboration, and off-site backup.

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