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March 30, 2010 / Raffy Pekson II

Tech Companies Want Online Privacy Law Rewriten

Photo by Nice Massena at Flickr.com

A broad coalition of companies including Google, Microsoft, and AT&T, joined by liberal and conservative advocacy groups, will announce a major push Tuesday to update federal privacy laws to protect mobile and cloud computing users, CNET has learned.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, is notoriously convoluted and difficult even for judges to follow. Under current law, Internet users enjoy more privacy rights if they store data locally, a legal hiccup that some companies fear could slow the shift to cloud-based services unless it’s changed.

This push for cell phone privacy is likely to put the coalition at odds with the Obama Justice Department. A few weeks ago, Justice Department prosecutors toldĀ  a federal appeals court that Americans enjoy no reasonable expectation of privacy in their mobile device’s location and that no search warrant should be required to access location logs.

There have been dozens of cases in the last year or so where the police have asked wireless companies for logs of which cell phones contacted a tower at a specific time.

Read more at CNet News.

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