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January 30, 2013

Google Stands Up for Privacy Rights

In an effort to protect user data from prying eyes, Google announced that it will lobby Washington in 2013 to update Internet consumer privacy rights.  

David Drummond, Google’s (News - Alert) chief legal officer, blogged on Monday that the company will combat efforts of law enforcement authorities exploiting loopholes in the 1986 U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which does not require search warrants when retrieving or data mining old e-mails, messages and videos stored online. 

Since 2009, Google has had more than a 70-percent increase in government requests for user data, according to Drummond.

Written in the Internet’s infancy, the act did not account for the spread and evolution of cell phone data, e-mail, webcams and other platforms that require data to be stored on an offsite server. Consumer and communications records have been a growing concern at Google, where authorities requested more than 16,000 requests for user data affecting 31,000 plus users or accounts in 2012. 

Companies like Microsoft Corp, Yahoo and Twitter (News - Alert) are following suit by withholding customer data. Many claim their constitutional right to privacy should be extended to their online presence. 

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy attempted to update the current law that “triggered a wave of concerns from the police and FBI that new restrictions would impede crime investigations and possibly endanger victims,” according to a Reuters article. 

The bill didn’t make it past Congress, however, after Bob Goodlatte, Republican, redrafted a version bill with language that removed language concerning privacy reform. 

On Monday, coinciding with Google’s announcement, Leahy concurred with their platform stating, "After three decades, it is essential that Congress update ECPA to ensure that this critical law keeps pace with new technologies and the way Americans use and store email today."

As the technology to store data evolves and new user-based data logs are created, the issue of online privacy rights will need to be addressed before long.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, happening now in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker

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