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Coalition Targets Online And USENET Privacy Laws
March 30th, 2010

A broad coalition of privacy groups and technology companies, calling itself Digital Due Process, sent a set of principles to Capitol Hill Tuesday to try and convince Congress to update digital communications  privacy laws.  The companies have teamed with more than 20 other technology providers and lobby groups from the right and left of US politics to update a US privacy law. The members cited the need to preserve traditional privacy rights in the face of technological change, while also ensuring that law-enforcement agencies can carry out investigations and the industry has the clarity needed to innovate.

The law the companies are targeting, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, is 24 years old and was created ages before the Internet became mainstream. As a result, there isn’t a lot of clarity about whether documents stored in the cloud or location data from cellphones are protected communications that require search warrants to access. The organizers argue that ECPA, which provides the framework for government access to electronic communications in criminal investigations, needs to address e-mail and private files stored in the online cloud – which would include USENET.

Members of the coalition include: ACLU, American Library Association, Americans for Tax Reform, AOL, Association of Research Libraries, AT&T, Center for Democracy & Technology, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Computer and Communications Industry Association, eBay, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Google, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Integra Telecom, Intel, Loopt, Microsoft, NetCoalition, The Progress & Freedom Foundation and Salesforce.com.

According to the coalition, technology has advanced to the point that the act in its current form is no longer enough. They point out email, cell phones, mobile Internet devices and social networking – including USENET newsgroups –  as some of the most pressing issues for the need for revision.

Currently, all communications with ThunderNews.com USENET access is 256-BIT encrypted, secure and private.

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