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Privacy and Data Protection

For U.S. companies, the confidentiality of business data and electronic communications and their protection from arbitrary government seizure are of the utmost importance. Yet recent actions by the U.S. government are calling into question the long-term sustainability of U.S. competitiveness and eroding trust in U.S. IT sector technologies. Such actions could also lead to retaliation by foreign governments, which would affect the cooperation between the countries with respect to trade, commerce, and other matters.

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The Situation:
The U.S. government is forcing American technology companies to turn over private customer data and email records that are being stored at data centers located outside the U.S. Such actions put sensitive data at risk of being compromised.

What Must Be Done:
In order for data, business records, and other electronic information to be protected against arbitrary government intrusion, federal laws must be updated to reflect the realities of cloud computing today.

Progress:
On Feb. 12, 2015, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act of 2015 (LEADS Act – S. 512) in the U.S. Senate and on Feb. 27, 2015, U.S. Representatives Tim Marino (R-PA-10th) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1st) introduced the LEADS Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill aims to amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 and strengthen legal protections for electronic communications. The LEADS Act would require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant to access the content of digital communications from cloud computing service providers, affording data stored with third parties in the cloud the same legal protections as data stored locally in one’s home or office.

In addition, the bill would require the government to cooperate with foreign government through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process when seeking content stored abroad. This will allow the U.S. to hold other governments seeking content stored in the U.S. to the same standard and will help protect the business data of American companies against unreasonable intrusion by foreign governments.

Like other businesses, U.S. manufacturers have benefited tremendously from the strong growth and continuing innovation of the U.S. information technology (IT) industry. But in order for U.S. companies to achieve their full potential and for our nation to maintain its position at the pinnacle of innovation and competitiveness, our data, business records, and other electronic information must be protected from arbitrary government intrusion. The LEADS Act will strengthen privacy in the digital age and promote trust in U.S. IT technologies worldwide, while enabling law enforcement to fulfill its public safety mission.

The National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation supports this legislation and encourages others to weigh in on this important issue. Read more from President Rob McKenna on this issue here.

For additional information on data privacy, please visit: http://www.nam.org/Issues/Technology/Infrastructure-Security/

Action Center:
Take action by writing a letter and tweeting at your representative. Tell Congress to Support the LEADS Act!

Recent News Articles and Event Coverage on the Issue:

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