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A significant step toward modernizing our surveillance laws

Last month, our General Counsel Kent Walker delivered a speech calling for a fundamental realignment of government access statutes in light of the growing role that technology plays in our daily lives, the expectation that communications should remain private, and the very real security threats that governments need to investigate.

In conjunction with the speech, we proposed a new framework oriented toward policy solutions that recognize legitimate law enforcement interests, respect the sovereignty of other countries, and reflect the reasonable expectation of privacy that users have in the content of their electronic communications.

The introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) by Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller advances these objectives, and we commend these Senators for their leadership in this area.

ICPA would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) in two important ways.

First, it would require U.S. government entities to obtain a warrant to compel the production of communications content from providers.  For many years, we have called upon the U.S. Congress to update ECPA in this manner, and the House of Representative has twice passed legislation (the Email Privacy Act) that would achieve this goal.

Second, it provides clear mechanisms for the U.S. government to obtain user data from service providers with a warrant, wherever the data may be stored, but with protections built in for certain cases when the users are nationals of other countries and are located outside the U.S.

We are eager to work with Members of Congress enact ICPA into law, and look forward to the opportunity to help advance this important bill.

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