Thursday, January 24, 2013

Google Report: 68% of Government Data Requests Warrantless

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Needs Reforming

According to Google's latest transparency report, more than two-thirds of the requests submitted to the company for private user information aren't backed by warrants. According to the study, various parts of the United States government made over 8,400 requests for nearly 15,000 accounts -- significantly more than any other government. The customer data collected ranges from names and IP's used to create accounts, to time stamps for when Gmail accounts were logged in and out of.

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As Techdirt notes, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act continues to be abused by a government that long ago stopped having to worry about oversight into its warrantless surveillance practices:
ECPA -- the Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- is an outdated law that was supposed to be about protecting user privacy, but was written nearly three decades ago and now does exactly the opposite. Beyond being complex in ridiculous and unnecessary ways, things that were true decades ago are no longer the case. For example, the idea that emails left for 180 days on a server no longer need a warrant because under ECPA they are considered "abandoned." Whereas in the real world, where all email lives on servers for quite some time, that idea makes no sense.

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