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Congress’s Tech To-Do List in the Lame Duck

Washington is full of speculation about Tuesday’s election and what Congress may or may not consider in the lame duck session. With lawmakers set to return from the campaign trail soon, it is time to remind Congress of some unfinished business they could quickly act on that will go a long way in helping tech companies here in the U.S. and in the global marketplace.

FISA Reform. In the Senate, we are looking forward to swift passage of S. 2685, the USA FREEDOM Act, introduced in July by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Meaningful surveillance reform is a critical step in restoring the public's trust in the technology sector and the U.S. government. This bill improves bipartisan legislation already passed by the House of Representatives and effectively puts an end to bulk data collection while enabling companies to be more transparent about the orders they receive from the U.S. government.

ECPA Reform. The 28-year old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) is long overdue for an update. ECPA must be updated to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to gain access to online user content. And Congress should not create a carve-out for civil agencies that would weaken a bright-line, warrant-for-content standard. Congress should take action and pass a clean ECPA bill — an important step that will increase user confidence in online services. There is broad bipartisan support in Congress for clean ECPA reform. S. 607 in the Senate passed the Judiciary Committee by voice vote last year, and in the House H.R. 1852 now has 270 co-sponsors. The message is loud and clear that ECPA reform can’t wait any longer.

We’re also looking forward to continuing important conversations about other law enforcement access to data issues such as the application of U.S. warrants overseas. A bill recently introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Dean Heller (R-NV) – S. 2862, the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act) – has sparked an important discussion about how to address conflicting legal requirements for U.S. companies operating globally. This is not just an important issue, but a timely one. We look forward to continuing the dialogue on the best way to address the challenges facing U.S. companies in the global marketplace.

We’ll be watching the results Tuesday night as the polls close and we’re eager to work with lawmakers upon their return to Capitol Hill. 

Public Policy Tags: Data & Privacy