The latest Grab Media video from Digital Trends (with Kacey Montoya, 12/03/2012) covers a lot of digital territory but most importantly covers the ECPA. Senator Patrick Leahy (along with the Judiciary Committee) recently held a vote to amend the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act). Part of the proposed changes include tossing out the "180 day rule*" and requiring subpoena power/s before enforced searching of private communications. The Committee "adopted the Amendment by unanimous consent". However, the Committee vote does not make it into law just yet. This columnist's communications with other 'tweeps' on Twitter leads us to believe that this Amendment would be very popular.
Actually, the Amendment is meant to have an effect on 18 U. S. Code Section 2710 which regards the apparent enforcement of ECPA. A few little word changes in the enforcement of the law would create vast changes in the way the law is handled. We have no idea if the vote will pass throughout the Senate (in the Committee vote one Senator was recorded as a "No"). It's the Managers Amendment that came as unanimous. We had no idea that we had such hierarchical management structure in the Senate. Still, it should be very popular to those 'tweeps' who have vociferously opposed ACTA, CISPA, PIPA and SOPA.
The enforcement management may have originated in a kind of "rapid response" to all that controversy over things like "The Turner Diaries" (no link provided). It's important to readers and would-be readers of this and similar columns - our "gadget and technology muses". It was so important that Change.org (according to their website) advanced a petition to adopt changes to the ECPA.
Disclaimer: So concerned was this columnist when the Change.org petition passed his desk he circulated it around. We even received a letter in response supporting amendments to the ECPA from Senator Debbie Stabenow. Petition and people power may have induced Mr. Leahy and the Judiciary Committee to begin putting limits on this now-outdated "privacy" law. (*Senators John Cornyn and Mike Lee wanted a "90 day rule" for non-enforcement agencies in the government.) Keeping your e-rights seems to be a twisted path of rule making and breaking.