Recently, a coalition of technology companies and advocacy groups has announced that it will lobby Congress to strengthen online privacy laws.

The companies involved include AT&T, Microsoft, and Google, while the advocacy groups include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Calling itself the Digital Due Process Coalition, the group says that it wants to ensure that private information stored online will be protected from government access. The group argues that the current law, the Electronic Communications Protection Act, written in 1986, dates from long before Internet use was commonplace and is badly in need of revision.

Specifically, the group wants to ensure that law enforcement officials will be required to obtain a warrant, based on probable cause, from a magistrate or judge before they can search for an individual’s emails, photos, or other online data. Currently, such information can be accessed with a subpoena. Information on where people live or where they have visited would be protected under the same rules.

The group’s members are signing onto four principles that outline their position in greater detail.

Calling the current law “woefully outdated,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has promised to hold hearings on the issue in the coming months.

Chad Burchard

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