Technology coalition seeks stronger privacy laws

A broad coalition of technology companies, including AT&T, Google, and Microsoft, and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum said March 30 that it would push Congress to strengthen online privacy laws to protect private digital information from government access, reports the New York Times. The group, calling itself the Digital Due Process coalition, said it wanted to ensure that as millions of people moved private documents from their filing cabinets and personal computers to the web, those documents remain protected from easy access by law enforcement and other government authorities. The coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology, wants law-enforcement agencies to use a search warrant approved by a judge or a magistrate, rather than rely on a simple subpoena from a prosecutor to obtain a citizen’s online data. The group also said it wants to safeguard location-based information collected by cell-phone companies and applications providers. Members of the group said they would lobby Congress for an update to the current law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was written in 1986—nearly a decade before internet use became mainstream. They acknowledged that some proposals were likely to face resistance from law-enforcement agencies and the Obama administration. This year, Justice Department lawyers argued in court that cell-phone users had given up the expectation of privacy about their location by voluntarily giving that information to carriers…

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