White House "Big Data" Report Recommends Updating Email Privacy Law

May 1, 2014 2:11 pm


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WASHINGTON – The White House today released its report on how the use of “big data” by the government and private companies can affect American’s lives. The report covers privacy rights and the potential for uses that could discriminate against groups like racial minorities.

Among its recommendations is that “Congress should amend ECPA [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act] to ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that afforded in the physical world.”

Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

“Everyone who cares about their privacy should be glad that the president’s review group recommends updating ECPA to protect Americans’ communications. By recognizing that online and offline communications should be treated the same, the report lays the groundwork for keeping everyone’s emails, texts, and photos private and secure. Now Congress and the administration need to make this vision a reality by enacting ECPA reform without any loopholes.”

“This report rightly recognizes that discrimination and inequality which already exist in society can be amplified by large-scale data analysis. We must remain vigilant to ensure that groups like racial minorities are helped by big data, not further marginalized by it.”

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