Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)

Most of the privacy law being used currently was written when flip phones were all the rage. If you haven’t noticed times have changed. Entire computers sit comfortably in our hand or back pocket if you’re a millennial. Data storage, email, and cloud based tech have changed our entire world. With that change legal challenges have evolved and it is time to update our severely outdated legal framework for dealing with privacy issues.

I’ve written about it before, and I am glad to say that a viable option is here.

It is called the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA). We have to thank a group of bi-partisan legislators for getting it introduced Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

The most powerful changes from this bill update the old school Electronic Communications Privacy Act from 1986 and bring it into the modern age. It’s like taking Frogger and making it Call of Duty!

In 1986, I had a sweet mullet and was still playing Bon Jovi cassettes! (Yes, it was awesome) However, It is time to modernize…though the mullet may have its day once again, (Business in front, party in the back) our online legal security needs an upgrade!

The courts have actually tasked our legislators to get this done and it looks like they may actually come through. The goal is to update current law and strike a balance to both safeguard consumer privacy and law enforcement’s need to access certain communications AFTER satisfying the requirements of a warrant.

Our privacy is becoming a big deal. Just ask Hillary if it’s a big deal. She’s been trying to “Wipe” that server for a while now and thousands of emails just keep appearing. The ICPA will create a framework for the law to operate that is both logical and techno-logical!

Our world is data driven and cloud based. The cyber-world knows no international boundaries. The cloud is not American or Russian or Chinese. But our rights as Americans need to have a solid footing and this is a great start.

Iowa’s own, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), even though he is in his 80’s is kind of famous for his “down-home” tweets is on board with seeing this improvement to our law. Include, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the outlook is fairly positive to seeing some substantial improvements to this antiquated law.

This truly bi-partisan group includes the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Patrick Leahy (D-VT) who is also ready to step into the 21st century. Both parties should be behind this as it really doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on…cyber-security is a big deal and getting the laws right is a giant leap forward.

Here are the main points of what the ICPA will do:

  • ICPA Overview – Requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant for all content. Under ICPA, law enforcement may only obtain the content of electronic communications stored with electronic communication service providers and remote computing service providers pursuant to a warrant.
  • Creates a clear legal framework authorizing law enforcement to obtain the electronic communications of U.S. persons, regardless of where those communications are located. It also allows law enforcement to obtain electronic communications relating to foreign nationals in certain circumstances.
  • Reforms the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process by providing greater accessibility, transparency, and accountability. ICPA requires the Attorney General to create an online docketing system for MLAT requests and to publish new statistics on the number of such requests.
  • Establishes a sense of Congress that data providers should not be subject to data localization requirements. Such requirements are incompatible with the borderless nature of the Internet, an impediment to online innovation, and unnecessary to meet the needs of law enforcement.
  • Impact on Law Enforcement – This bill will not make it harder for law enforcement to do their job because The International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) will benefit law enforcement.

Even though my teenaged self happens to think 1986 was totally awesome and Rad dude! My forty-year-old self is glad to see our legislators finally updating old laws to keep up with technology.

This is just the start. Our world and the data we all produce is going to need constant updating to ensure that our 4th amendment rights persevere in the digital age.

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