White House calls for upgrade to law protecting consumer cloud data from law enforcement

The law that protects the privacy of consumer data in the cloud, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), was written in 1986 before the cloud even existed, and the White House has now endorsed a petition to have the law upgraded.

At its We The People petition website, the White House yesterday officially endorsed a petition called “Reform ECPA: Tell the Government to Get a Warrant.”

The issue of cloud data ownership, and government access to data, has been heating up in the corridors of power over the past few months.

As things stand now, the ECPA could allow law enforcement access to email or other data that is more than 180 days old without a warrant. It’s also used by law enforcement to justify forcing U.S. companies to hand over data stored in overseas data centers, again, without a warrant.

That last item is particularly troubling to some U.S. tech businesses that offer web services and store the resulting data in the cloud.

And it’s especially concerning considering that the world is moving quickly toward mobile computing and away from the desktop. Mobile computing devices aren’t designed for storage, so all the data we generate or access on mobile is stored in some cloud or other. This can include anything from sensitive medical and financial information to family pictures and email.

So the security and privacy of that data is of paramount importance.