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Congress Has a Chance to Get It Right on Email Privacy

Congress has an opportunity to finally put to bed one of the longest running but seemingly least controversial issues in tech policy: what do police need to do to access private communications held by third parties? The language of the Email Privacy Act, which would address this, has been included in the House (but not the Senate) version of must pass legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act. Let’s get it done.

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Tech Talk: Habeas Data and the Future of Work

In this episode of Tech Talk, we talking to Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica about his new book Habeas Data, where he takes a close look at the legal cases and policies that are shaping American surveillance practices. After that, we welcome Aaron Pinto, a Canadian delegate to the G7 youth summit or Y7 who shared his insights on the future of work, highlighting how young leaders from the G7 countries see technology impacting their future.

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CDT Argues Against Extraterritorial Warrants in Microsoft-Ireland Brief

CDT argued in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Microsoft-Ireland case that warrants issued by U.S. courts cannot compel the disclosure of communications content stored outside the United States. We explain in the brief that a contrary rule authorizing extraterritorial U.S. warrants would be an open invitation to foreign governments to insist that their own legal process compels the disclosure of data stored in the United States. This would create chaos at the expense of privacy. We also explain that authorizing the U.S. government to compel the disclosure of data stored abroad would damage the cloud computing industry by reducing trust. 

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The Bill Our Privacy Desperately Needs in the Digital Age

Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have introduced a sweeping, bipartisan measure to modernize our electronic communication privacy laws. Lee and Leahy have long been champions of reform, advancing measures such as the Email Privacy Act. The ECPA Modernization Act of 2017 goes well beyond that effort and proposes important updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) – a law Senator Leahy helped draft more than 30 years ago – to address the reality of communications in the modern digital age.

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Broad Support for the ECPA Modernization Act

Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have introduced a sweeping, bipartisan measure to modernize our electronic communication privacy laws, the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017. There is broad support for this bill and we have collected statements that demonstrate that support.

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An Obscure Case with Big Implications for Privacy

The government has just fired its latest salvo in a long running effort to circumvent privacy protections for electronic communications. An obscure case of civil fraud may have dramatic implications for when and how the government can access your emails, texts, and photos held online. CDT jointly filed a brief in the case, Securities and Exchange Commission v. North Star Finance LLC, opposing government efforts to obtain email content in a civil case with just a subpoena to an email service provider.

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Alexa, is Law Enforcement Listening?

Just days after Christmas, news broke that police in Bentonville, Arkansas, had issued a warrant to Amazon to turn over audio recordings from an Echo as part of a hot tub murder investigation. The sensational story brought with it a slate of headlines about new privacy concerns posed by the connected devices and the Internet of Things, but it also demonstrates how unclear legal standards and aggressive law enforcement interest in data can undermine the physical sanctity of our homes and inner lives.

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Washington Court Should Find ECPA Unconstitutional

ECPA allows the government to prevent service providers from notifying their customers that the government has accessed a customer’s private electronic data stored in the cloud. This egregious conduct not only violates the First and Fourth Amendment, it compromises public trust in cloud computing. That’s why we filed a brief asking the court to declare Section 2705(b) of ECPA unconstitutional.

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Expansion of Secret National Security Letters – A Poison Pill for Email Privacy

Initially meant as a very limited investigative tool in financial cases, national security letter (NSL) authority has morphed into a frequently used, and abused, way by which the FBI can secure telephone records in terrorism or espionage cases without going to a judge. The FBI is pushing for a dramatic expansion of NSL authority, and is trying to sneak it into non-controversial email privacy legislation or a “must-pass” intelligence spending bill.

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