Risk
4/1/2010
08:33 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Senator Calls For Privacy Hearings

Judiciary chairman Leahy says currently laws governing electronic communications are outdated and inadequate.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he plans to hold hearings on "much-needed updates" to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 in the coming months.

"While the question of how best to balance privacy and security in the 21st century has no simple answer, what is clear is that our federal electronic privacy laws are woefully outdated," Leahy said, in a statement.

Google, Microsoft and other tech companies also joined privacy advocates and academics this week in seeking tougher laws that raise the standards for government access to e-mail, instant messages and personal files stored online.

The broad Digital Due Process coalition wants Congress to rewrite the privacy act. The group argues the law is outdated and no longer provides adequate protection of personal data stored on the Internet, as it exists today.

"Technology has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, but the law has not," Jim Dempsey, VP for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said in a statement announcing the formation of the group. Dempsey is a leader of the coalition effort.

The coalition sees a number of privacy weaknesses in the act. Top on the list is changing rules that allow law enforcement agencies to access some e-mail, instant messages and other information stored online through simple subpoenas. The organization wants Congress to up the requirement, so such agencies would need court-ordered warrants, which require convincing a court that there's enough evidence of a criminal act to support a search and seize data.

While law enforcement agencies will likely oppose such a requirement, the coalition argues that private information stored online should fall under the standards imposed on government to search homes and offices, seize personal papers and read mail.

"The law needs to be clear that the same standard applies to email and documents stored with a service provider, while at the same time be flexible enough to meet law enforcement needs," Dempsey said.

The group says it is talking to politicians and law enforcement agencies to try and reach a consensus on updates to the law.

Tech companies joining Google and Microsoft in the coalition include AOL, eBay, Intel, Loopt and Salesforce.com. Other members include AT&T, the ACLU, the American Library Association, the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. More than 20 organizations have joined the group.

Dark Reading's Database Security Tech Center is your portal to all the news, reports, product information, technical data, and other information related to the topic of database security. Check it out now.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, September 16, 2014
Malicious software is morphing to be more targeted, stealthy, and destructive. Are you prepared to stop it?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2886
Published: 2014-09-18
GKSu 2.0.2, when sudo-mode is not enabled, uses " (double quote) characters in a gksu-run-helper argument, which allows attackers to execute arbitrary commands in certain situations involving an untrusted substring within this argument, as demonstrated by an untrusted filename encountered during ins...

CVE-2014-4352
Published: 2014-09-18
Address Book in Apple iOS before 8 relies on the hardware UID for its encryption key, which makes it easier for physically proximate attackers to obtain sensitive information by obtaining this UID.

CVE-2014-4353
Published: 2014-09-18
Race condition in iMessage in Apple iOS before 8 allows attackers to obtain sensitive information by leveraging the presence of an attachment after the deletion of its parent (1) iMessage or (2) MMS.

CVE-2014-4354
Published: 2014-09-18
Apple iOS before 8 enables Bluetooth during all upgrade actions, which makes it easier for remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions via a Bluetooth session.

CVE-2014-4356
Published: 2014-09-18
Apple iOS before 8 does not follow the intended configuration setting for text-message preview on the lock screen, which allows physically proximate attackers to obtain sensitive information by reading this screen.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio