Warner Todd Huston
Does government own your remotely backed up computer files, your emails, or your cell phone GPS info?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+
By Warner Todd Huston
April 6, 2011

Did you know that there are no laws to prevent government agencies from raiding your computer's remotely hosted back up files, your third party emails, your cloud computing files, or your cell phone GPS location records? Well, there aren't. As the law stands today government can go into your private computer files or trace your cell phone location without a warrant.

As a result of this lapse in protection form unlawful search and seizure a new group of concerned parties intends to change the law with the Digital Fourth Amendment campaign.

The problem is not necessarily that government is out to steal all our computing information, but that the laws have simply not caught up to today's technology. The laws that cover how policing agencies and governments can access your emails, computer files, and cell phone GPS records are currently governed by rules that are decades out of date. These rules were written in the 1980s, long before the Internet came along, before cloud computing was invented, before email, and well before cell phones that could track your whereabouts became pervasive.

You see, today all your personal information that is stored in third party storage space is not considered to be the kind of personal property that would require a court-issued warrant for government to access. If you have email stored at Google, if you use a cloud computing service, or if you have a third party data back up service it is all open for government to view without a warrant because it is in the actual possession of a third party. Currently none of these computer records are considered your private records.

This also holds true for cell phone GPS location records. As the law stands today government can access your cell phone location records and find out where you've been and all without a by your leave from the courts.

The Digital Fourth Amendment campaign aims to change that and bring the laws against unlawful search and seizure into the digital world of the 21st century.

    Our coalition — led by the free market, pro-liberty groups TechFreedom, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Americans for Tax Reform's Digital Liberty Project — is dedicated to bringing obsolete laws including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 into the digital age. These reforms would unleash innovation and competition among cloud computing and mobile service providers by extending to their users the same Fourth Amendment protections that currently apply to digital data stored on local hard drives.

    By giving the users of cloud computing and mobile services the same Fourth Amendment protections that currently apply to digital data stored on local hard drives, these reforms would allow these services to flourish, unleashing innovation and enhancing American global competitiveness.

Make yourself familiar with this effort. It is important that we extend our Fourth Amendment rights to our modern, computer driven world.

**NOTE**: this campaign does not address FISA and war on terror issues as those are wholly separate legal discussions.

© Warner Todd Huston

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

More by this author

 

Stephen Stone
'The fervent prayer of the righteous'

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
Busted: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Madeline Crabb
Puppets, prostitutes, and pimps – Part Five

Rev. Austin Miles
Biden qualifies for impeachment!

Michael Bresciani
Equality Act: The most demonically inspired bill in U.S. history

Judie Brown
The Church MUST respond; Biden’s FDA gives mail-order abortion the green light

Cliff Kincaid
The Unabomber and other transgender pioneers

Curtis Dahlgren
The 13th grade: It's killing us

Steve A. Stone
The Fourth Horseman

Rev. Mark H. Creech
It's still a big deal, and for me it's personal

Judie Brown
Disassembling childhood

Michael Bresciani
Morality from our corporations: Are the fumbling feckless fiduciaries issuing new commandments?

Jerry Newcombe
The Sabbath—a gift from God

Tabitha Korol
Epilogue to a friendship
  More columns

Cartoons


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons

RSS feeds

News:
Columns:

Columnists

Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites