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Newsgathering Would Benefit From Updated Electronic Privacy Legislation, New Issue Paper States

Protections Needed for Cloud Computing


FOR RELEASE: Mar. 20, 2015

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
703-243-5700

 

Arlington, Va., Mar. 20, 2015 – An issue paper released today by The Media Institute recommends updating 1980s-era privacy legislation to reflect the growing popularity of cloud computing. Stronger safeguards for information stored remotely “in the cloud” would allow media companies to take better advantage of this innovative technology, the paper states.

The paper’s author, noted communications attorney Kurt Wimmer, points out that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) did not contemplate the rise of off-site data storage.  Now, for example, outdated provisions in that legislation give government agencies relatively easy access to reporters’ e-mails and other sensitive information stored in the cloud longer than six months.

This vulnerability has left many media organizations reluctant to adopt cloud computing, which offers a broad range of advantages including more efficient movement of information across platforms and significant cost savings.

Wimmer notes that legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House and Senate, the “LEADS Act,” would remedy the shortcomings of ECPA and provide the common-sense safeguards needed by news operations to maintain the trust of confidential sources.

The paper is titled “Updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act: An Essential Legislative Goal for Media Companies and the Public They Serve.”  It is one the Institute’s “Policy Views” series of issue papers.  The paper can be accessed online here.

Kurt Wimmer is the U.S. Chair of the Privacy and Data Security practice of Covington & Burling LLP and a partner in its Washington office.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Media Institute and chairs its First Amendment Advisory Council.

The Media Institute is a nonprofit research foundation working to advance sound communications policy, freedom of speech, and excellence in journalism.  For more information, visit the Institute online at mediainstitute.org.

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