Saturday, August 07, 2010

Go carefully in "clarifying" Electronic Communications Privacy Act, when it comes to warrantless "national security" searches of ISP records

The Washington Post has an important editorial Saturday Aug. 7 about the kind of "forensic" information that the FBI can get from an ISP through a “national security letter” without a warrant. Generally, that’s limited to routing information, sender and recipient, but may include a gag order preventing disclosure of the request to the subjects. But the FBI wants to interpret the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) as allowing “electronic communication transactional record”, or email contents and perhaps browsing history, to be included, at least with more modifications to the law from Congress.

The Post urged Congress to resist such changes, and says that inquiries about content should require a warrant from a judge. The link for the editorial (“Clarifying FBI’s Electronic Reach Must Be Cautious”) is here

The Cornell Law School reference for the text of the ECPA (“Pub. L. 99-508, Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1848, 18 U.S.C. § 2510”)“ is here.

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