Blown To Bits

Some Suggestions to Congress about Electronic Privacy

Monday, October 6th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

It’s easier to document the erosion of privacy due to technology advances and fear of terrorism than to formulate legislative proposals to counter the trend. The Center for Democracy and Technology has a good summary here. The bottom line:

In short, the next President and Congress should —

• Update electronic communications laws to account for the way that Americans communicate today;

• Restore checks and balances on government surveillance, including vigorous judicial and congressional oversight of surveillance programs;

• Review information sharing policies and practices to ensure that the government can “connect the dots” while preserving privacy; and

• Revisit the REAL ID Act and ensure that governmental identification programs include proper privacy and security protections.

The first bullet refers to the reality that in a very few years, many Americans have moved to keep their email “in the cloud” — that is, Gmail or Yahoo! mail or a similar web-based service, leaving them dependent on the practices of those companies to deal with government demands for copies of their email.

5 pages, and a quick read.

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