Support Privacy Protections for the Cloud Computing Age
Right now, legal privacy protections for email and other cloud-stored data are weak—and could get weaker. Fundamentally, this is a legal and policy issue—not a technical matter.
The growing threat of privacy and confidentiality intrusions is eroding trust in technology. Without user trust, innovation and its benefits are undermined. As troubling, people are losing confidence that our nation is upholding the commitment to privacy enshrined in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In a September 2015 U.S. Court of Appeals hearing, where Microsoft challenged the U.S.’s request for private data held in Ireland, the U.S. government asserted its right and even the right of other nations to access data beyond national borders. In July 2016, the same Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in Microsoft’s favor. The three-judge appellate panel overturned a lower court’s judgement and ruled that existing laws did not give U.S. law enforcement the authority to issue warrants extraterritorially. The court’s decision noted that current law is out of date and was developed before the days of our current international, cross-border internet. The court noted the “need for congressional action to revise a badly outdated statute.”
The International Communications Privacy Act—ICPA—represents that congressional action called for by the court. ICPA will help restore trust in tech by ensuring that digital communications and data receive the same privacy protections as paper letters and documents. ICPA will:
- Require a court-approved search warrant—for government agencies to access private digital communications and documents, just as required for government access to physical documents.
- Establish fair rules for government to access data stored abroad—this will protect Americans’ privacy and set a model for other nations.
- Strengthen international cooperation—U.S. law enforcement will be better able to conduct international investigations through Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties with other nations.
Please voice your support now for ICPA by writing your Members of Congress!
- Digital Constitution
- Reform Government Surveillance
- Full Text of ICPA
- Letter from 11 technology associations urging congressional support for ICPA
- “Our search warrant case: An important decision for people everywhere,” by Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer
- In The Cloud We Trust: It’s Time to Rebuild the World’s Faith in the Technology That Empowers Us All, written by Brad Smith
- The Weekly Standard, “A Step in the Right Direction on Data Privacy“
- Letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register: “It’s time for update to communication privacy laws”
- InsideSources.com, “Data Is Forever…”
- Townhall.com, “Privacy Law Finally Gets An Upgrade“
- San Francisco Chronicle, “Microsoft Email Case Could Have Global Impact”
- Wall Street Journal, “Justice Department Says Other Nations May Access Customer Data Stored in U.S.”
- Reuters, “Microsoft Urges U.S. Court to Block Warrant for Emails Held Abroad”
- Washington Post, “U.S. Battle Over Microsoft Emails Could Result in ‘Global Free-for-All’”
- USA Today, “Microsoft Argues Email Stored in Ireland Not Subject to Search Warrant”
- The Guardian, “Microsoft Case: DoJ Says It Can Demand Every Email from Any U.S.-Based Provider”
- Foreign Policy, “Microsoft vs. the Feds, Cloud Computing Edition”
- Irish Times, “Data case has huge implications for personal privacy”
What Experts, Analysts, and Lawmakers are Saying
“Lawmakers must not ignore the pressing issue of international data privacy and the need for Congress to establish a legal framework for accessing extraterritorial communications.” — Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
“Just like law enforcement agencies should be required to get a warrant before accessing the content of Americans’ communications within our borders, processes for accessing content located abroad should also comply with the law. This common-sense bill will protect our data across borders, and encourage fair treatment by our international partners.” — Senator Dean Heller (R-NV)
“This bill guarantees that users of technology have confidence that their privacy rights will be protected by due process while simultaneously ensuring law enforcement agencies have necessary access to information through a clear, legal framework to keep us safe.”— U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Tom Marino (R-PA)
“Privacy protections clearly need to apply even in the age of cloud computing. That is why Congress must make sure that the law keeps up with the times.” — New York Times editorial
“People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.” — Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer
“This case [Microsoft v. U.S.] sets an international precedent. It opens up U.S. citizens to having their communications accessed by governments overseas.” — Peter Swire, Professor of Law and Ethics, Georgia Tech
“The right to keep that data private is essential—and it requires that we extend and adapt longstanding legal protections to the new context of today’s digital world.” — Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA/Software Alliance