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In the past four years, Google has seen a 203% increase in the number of demands received from law enforcement agencies in the United States. Between the latter half of 2012 and the first half of 2013, the total number of demands received by Google increased by 29%, rising from 8,438 to 10,918 respectively.

The report, in addition to others from Internet companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yahoo! all support the notion that the volume of government requests for user data is growing significantly.  

While our member companies support law enforcement’s mission to protect citizens, we also support protecting users’ online privacy.  Since its inception, The Internet Association has long-supported reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, a law intended to protect Americans’ privacy in electronic communications for telephone calls as well as electronically stored data.

Here are some of our arguments:

  • A law enacted over 25 years ago needs to be updated to reflect existing technologies.  

  • Americans increasingly store their personal documents not in their home office but in their virtual office, because of the convenience and accessibility of cloud services and web-based email services.

  • The same 4th Amendment protections afforded to citizens’ to safeguard their personal effects from governmental searches should be extended to their online presence.

The Internet Association continues to support Senators Leahy and Lee’s ECPA reform bill, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013, which would update the current law to require the government to obtain search warrants before accessing Internet users’ content stored online.  

Enacting this bill into law is critical to protecting users’ online privacy.  We must act now on ECPA reform.