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Wednesday, 13 September 2017 13:01

Will Congress finally update a data privacy law that's 31 years old?

Written by  Christina Delgado

Cross-border data flows have left governments around the world struggling to catch up. But the trend toward tighter restrictions on such flows, in addition to the possibility they will hinder global economic growth, is making it increasingly difficult for companies to comply with competing laws, to respect client data and information, and to conduct international business.

In the United States, the statutory framework for such rules was set down more than 30 years ago, with the now badly out-of-date Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Passed by Congress in 1986, this Reagan-era law extended Fourth Amendment privacy protections to information transmitted over the Internet. However, more than three decades of technological advancements have left ECPA's protections woefully insufficient. The Senate currently is considering the ECPA Modernization Act, which proposes to address some of ECPA's weaknesses by offering better clarity for law enforcement and stronger privacy protections for data transmitted within the U.S.

While this update to ECPA is much needed and encouraging, even if it passes and is signed by President Trump, there would remain glaring deficiencies in the realm of international electronic communications. Data stored abroad, for instance, present particular challenges for U.S. law enforcement efforts. Companies caught in the middle can find themselves in the precarious position of having to violate other countries' laws, and potentially users' privacy expectations, to comply with U.S.

Read more at The Washington Examiner

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