Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Google and Microsoft Push US Feds to Update Privacy Laws

It's only in the States, but it's worth noting: A coalition of the net’s biggest online service providers, including Google and Microsoft, are joining with the top internet rights groups to demand Congress modernize the nation’s privacy laws.

“With the emergence of location services and the transfer of a huge amount of data to the cloud and our huge reliance on cloud storage of e-mail messages, the law has become outdated and needs to be updated,” Dempsey said in the conference call.

For instance, when the law was crafted, e-mail was almost always downloaded from a central server to a user’s computer. Any messages left after 180 days were considered abandoned, so the law allows police to obtain any e-mail older than six months simply by issuing a subpoena — meaning no judge is involved. If those e-mails had been downloaded to a user’s computer and removed from the server, the police would need a search warrant, based on probable cause, to get at them.

But now that Americans store gigabytes of e-mails on Yahoo’s, Google’s and Microsoft’s servers, those different standards make no sense, and the law should be platform independent, according to Dempsey.


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