The Stop Online Piracy Act scare a year ago left some Internet dwellers wondering what direction the Internet would take in the future.
Zoe Lofgren, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Techcrunch on Nov. 13 about a few proposed bills waiting in the wings for the next session of Congress.
I was overjoyed when I read that Lofgren was not only lobbying for Internet freedom, but also our right to privacy with technology in general.
The first bill Lofgren proposed she called ECPA 2.0, which is a revised version of the current Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The current bill details situations in which any law enforcement needs a warrant to gain any digital communication data. This includes everything from cell phone records to email. Under ECPA as it stands, law enforcement does not, in most cases, actually need a warrant for those digital records.
It baffles me that no one has thought to make a change to that 1986 law. ECPA leaves us wide open to having our phones and Web access policed 24/7. With the huge part that mobile phones, text messaging and email play in our daily lives, why have we been OK with this so far?
For that reason, I truly hope that ECPA 2.0 makes some headway in the next session of Congress. If enacted, ECPA 2.0 will protect our digital communications privacy under the Fourth Amendment. It would require law enforcement, or any government agency, to have a warrant for any digital information, including email. Of course, emergency situations will still be exceptions under the new bill.
The whole point here is protecting us while still having a balance. It may make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I am not a fan of any government agency having the ability to listen in on my phone calls any time it wants. Under the current bill, they do in fact have that ability with cellphones.
I understand that in some cases it is necessary for investigations, but while the existing law stands, it’s best to know your rights. It also doesn’t hurt to avoid sending information you would deem incriminating if your digital media are being policed.
The second bill Lofgren wrote about in her article was called the Global Free Internet Act. The basic idea behind the bill is the creation of a task force to stop bills like SOPA that may arise in the future.
In the article, Lofgren wrote that with Internet users up from 16 million to 3 billion since 1995, the protection of our right to connect freely online is more important than ever.
I could not agree more with that statement. Think about what would have happened if SOPA had passed nearly a year ago. Our access to the Internet would be policed; every website accessed would be checked to make sure you weren’t downloading music, movies or any other content from unapproved sources.
The bill Lofgren will be introducing next session would ensure the next time SOPA-like legislation rears its ugly head, someone will be there to protect our rights rather than hoping it will get voted down.
This is not just a way to protect Internet pirates and their booty; it protects the everyday Internet user like you and me who use anything like Wikipedia or YouTube.
What do you think about current legislation on technology? How do you think it could be improved? Tell me on Twitter @Techsass or on Facebook.com/dixiesunnews.