White House ‘Big Data Privacy’ group unveils report, supports warrant requirement for email, cloud content

“The staggering amount of data readily accessible in 2014 means the federal government must take specific steps to ensure personal privacy is protected and Americans aren’t discriminated against, a special White House panel recommended Thursday,” Ben Wolfgang reports for The Washington Times. “The ‘Big Data and Privacy Working Group,’ appointed by President Obama in January, unveiled six specific steps Congress and the administration should take, including extending full U.S. privacy protections to non-citizens and ensuring that information collected on students is used only for educational purposes.”

“White House Counselor John Podesta and his colleagues said that today’s level of data is a two-sided coin that could lead to abuse, unless proper protections are put in place,” Wolfgang reports. “Other members of the review group included Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, White House Science Adviser John Holdren and other administration officials.”

Wolfgang reports, “The group’s six specific recommendations are: Advance the stalled Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights; pass legislation establishing a national data breach standard; extend U.S. privacy protections to non-citizens; ensure data collected on students is used only for educational purposes and is not shared inappropriately; ensure data isn’t used to discriminate against Americans or violate their civil rights; and update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to fix ‘archaic’ provisions.”

Read more in the full article here.

“The panel recommended that an aging law be changed to require that authorities obtain warrants to seize cloud-based content and e-mail. Such data, when it is stored on third-party servers and older than 180 days, is not constitutionally protected,” David Kravets reports for Ars Technica. “‘The laws that govern protections afforded to our communications were written before e-mail, the Internet, and cloud computing came into wide use. Congress should amend ECPA [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act] to ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that afforded in the physical,’ the panel concluded.”

“But it’s uncertain whether Congress would actually amend ECPA, the privacy law in question that was adopted during the Reagan era,” Kravets reports. “Here’s why: the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a reform measure last year requiring the authorities to obtain a probable-cause warrant to acquire cloud-based data — the same Fourth Amendment standard necessary to search the same material if it was on a hard drive in your house. However, an anonymous lawmaker or lawmakers has blocked the measure from going before the full Senate for a yes or no vote.”

“And that’s despite the unheard of support from the Justice Department saying it backs the Senate package to enhance the public’s privacy protections,” Kravets reports. “What’s more, at least 200 lawmakers on the House side have co-sponsored a similar bill, yet it remains idled, too, amid concerns from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which opposes the plan. That’s an unprecedented number of lawmakers to ever sponsor a piece of legislation. And similar packages have been floating about for years.”

Read more in the full article here.

The “Findings of the Big Data and Privacy Working Group Review” report is here.

MacDailyNews Take: Last month, The Center for Democracy & Technology, American Civil Liberties Union, Heritage Action for America, and Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission calling on the agency to drop its opposition to reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

For the past year, the Securities and Exchange Commission has opposed reform of the ECPA. Recent statements by senior SEC staff and your testimony in the House have confused us about the source of the SEC’s opposition. We have asked the SEC for recent examples of the type of access to communications that the SEC believes would be cut off by pending ECPA reform bills. So far, we have received none.

You can read the full letter here.

Visit the Apple-backed reformgovernmentsurveillance.com today.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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21 Comments

          1. Mine belongs to the ages, bless her, but I am ever wary of shocking my six angelic nieces with a wayward comment (the three nephews don’t care a toss)

  1. Like shooting fish in a barrel:

    I. White House Counselor John Podesta and his colleagues said that today’s level of data is a two-sided coin that could lead to abuse, unless proper protections are put in place

    They’re already in place. READ THE FOURTH AMENDMENT and FOLLOW IT.

    1. Here’s the problem: the previous administration (well, actually we really have to go back to Reagan on this) threw out the Constitution, and then a recent administration stacked the Supreme Court with activist radicals who are happy to ignore the Constitution when it suits them.

      On top of this, the tiny portion of the public that actually votes, tends to vote for fearmongering idiots.

      So your “solution” is actually much harder to implement than you think. Doubt it? Take a look at that Bundy nutcase. Has a copy of the Constitution in his pocket, but doesn’t think it applies to him specifically.

      I applaud the administration for taking an inherited problem and adversarial Congress and TRYING (so very, annoyingly, slowly) to move back to Constitutional law, but without the public on board (and the replacement of a couple of specific SC justices), it’s like trying to pull a Humvee out of the La Brea Tar Pits.

      1. A thoughtful post! Thank you.

        Despite my rough commentary, the fact that this pack of rubbish is actually in favor of our already inherent constitutional rights is a nice change. It’s actually the FIRST sign I’ve seen that the Obama administration ever gave a damn about the Fourth Amendment. Obviously, they’re still pretending like ANY of what they’re addressing was EVER legal. (It isn’t). That’s profoundly disturbing. And as I point out, their solutions are NOT solutions. They’re propaganda mockups of solutions, as if we’re all too stupid to know the Fourth Amendment.

        >stop derek stop<

        My pulling another rant fest on the topic changes nothing. But at least I now have the personal opinion that, despite the bullshit language, the Obama administration might just do the right thing for a change regarding citizen rights.

  2. PowPowPowPow!

    IV. The panel recommended that an aging law be changed to require that authorities obtain warrants to seize cloud-based content and e-mail

    In order that it meet the CONSTITUTIONAL DEMANDS OF THE FOURTH AMENDMENT, thereby making the aging ‘law’ actually LEGAL.

          1. this “panel” can sleep with fishes for all I care. Lie # 4.202,210 for the Obama Obscenity. Today’s email revelation regarding Benghazi is lie # 4,202,211…can’t wait for tomorrow!

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