In an effort to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a coalition of interest groups, non-profits and private companies have come together, including Microsoft, Google, AOL, and the ACLU. Originally enacted in 1986, most agree that the statute is now insufficient for the age of the Internet.
The principles aim to upgrade and enhance privacy protection for individuals using the internet, sending email and storing data in the cloud, according to Search Engine Land's Greg Sterling. "Basically these principles seek to apply the probable cause standard and require a judge-issued warrant before law enforcement officials can gain access to private information or data online," Sterling notes. "This would include search query logs." A key principle would allow the governmental to require that an entity covered by ECPA disclose communications that are not readily accessible to the public only after showing probable cause.