Courts and Congress Focus on Digital Privacy


Over the past two weeks, digital privacy has been in the headlines.

On September 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments concerning Microsoft’s challenge to a federal demand that the company provide U.S. authorities with emails stored abroad. During the hearing, the U.S. asserted its right to access email and data anywhere in the world, if the cloud technology provider is headquartered in the U.S. Of note, during the hearing, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Gerard Lynch said, “It would be helpful if Congress would engage” on the issue. Key coverage of the hearing includes:

Then, on September 16, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith wrote that “the focus on privacy… could not come at a better or more important time. With each passing month it is becoming even clearer that our nation’s antiquated privacy laws need to be reformed. This is the time for Congress to act.”

You can read Smith’s complete post on Microsoft on the Issues, “Passing ECPA Reform – It Has Never Been More Important.”

In his post, Smith also underscores the need to pass the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act, which was also championed during the hearing by its sponsor, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).