Privacy Protections Increase in Cloud Data

Senator Patrick Leahy authored an amendment to the 1986 law that will require our law enforcement officials to secure search warrants to gain access to cloud data and use the information in investigations. This is to address the growing concern in the lack of or limited cloud data privacy.

Cloud data is a growing trend in data storage that has started a few years back. It is basically an alternative to storing hard copies of your personal or office files. The data are sent to the “clouds” or a server that stores everything and it can be accessed anywhere with internet connection.

Those who want to retrieve all data stored in the cloud will need a unique password. However, there is still a looming concern on whether or not privacy is maintained especially when law enforcement is concerned.

Leahy’s amendment also wants to protect the geolocation data of the users that is usually saved in our mobile phones. Should it be approved, a warrant will be required to access data in electronic devices that track the location of the user.

The amendment follows Senate hearings with the makers of smarthphone operating system, specifically GOOG for Google, AAPL for Apple, and RIMM for Research in Motion. The hearings were conducted due to a recent discovery that Apple iPhones can store location data. These data are stored in a folder with minimal protection. In fact, law enforcers are already accessing these data during their investigations without any warrant.

The amendment will also cover email searches by police officers. Our current laws give law enforcement officials full access to emails that have been stored longer than 180 days in a remote server.

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