Privacy and Copyright Acts Under Scrutiny

We’ve previously touched on the privacy exposures of cloud computing but a recent announcement by Digital Due Process (a coalition of privacy advocates including Google, AT&T, eBay, Aol, Microsoft and more) over the need to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) highlights a key privacy issue for computing in the cloud.  Simply, information stored locally is covered under the Fourth Amendment warrant protection but that same document stored in the cloud may not have the same warrant protection.  One of the goals of the Digital Due Process is to achieve greater clarity for the ECPA so that information can enjoy a uniform level of protection regardless of technology or platform. 


Another Act getting a closer look is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  The ongoing copyright case of Viacom v. Google may have an impact on the DMCA.  Currently, under DMCA safe harbor provisions, an internet service provider’s copyright infringement liability is limited if it is unaware that infringing content exists on its site.  At issue, is whether or not Google had knowledge of, or enough knowledge of, infringing content to fall outside the safe harbor provisions. If Google loses the case and is held accountable for removing copyrighted content from its sites before receiving a take down notice from the copyright owner, the functionality of the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA could be affected.