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Trusted Technologies & Economic Growth

Executive Summary

At TechNet, we have great respect for the job that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies do.  We fully understand that our nation faces grave threats, and that we must be vigilant in protecting our homeland.  We are committed to finding balanced solutions that protect the safety and privacy of our citizens without damaging public trust, undermining security, and hindering economic growth and job creation.  It is important to have an expert discussion that considers the legitimate rights and needs of consumers, businesses, governments, and the American economy.  Trust is vital not only for individual companies’ financial well-being, but also for the development of technologies that enable national and global economic growth.  This trust is essential to help ensure that consumers know there is an arm’s-length relationship between U.S. companies and the government.  Ensuring that trust means that people using technology must also be assured that there are rules of law that govern government access to consumer data.  This includes the government recognizing both the importance of the use of encryption to safeguard consumer information and the commercial value of encryption, while not mandating backdoors to access encrypted services.  TechNet has serious concerns over calls for weakened encryption and the privacy, security, economic, and competitive implications of these actions.  In addition, Congress should move expeditiously to pass ECPA reform to require a warrant for digital communications regardless of how old the communication is or where it is stored.

Trusted Technologies and Economic Growth Principles

  • As the world’s information technology leader and the home to the vast majority of the world’s major information technology providers, the United States has a unique opportunity to provide leadership in the establishment of a legal framework that recognizes the legitimate rights and needs of consumers, businesses, governments, and the American economy.
  • To ensure the appropriate balance between personal liberty and public safety in a free and democratic society, it is important to have a frank discussion on the government’s surveillance authority.  The discussion should include assurances that executive branch surveillance authority is subject to meaningful judicial and legislative oversight, and follows the rule of law.  It is also important that we work with our allies to ensure there are proper global legal frameworks within and among other countries.
  • The United States faces real and significant threats.  These threats heighten the need for domestic and international trust in U.S.-based technology companies, which play a central role in building and operating an open, global Internet.
  • To the extent that customer communications do not compromise the legitimate need for government secrecy in ongoing government operations or investigation, U.S. technology companies need the ability to communicate with their customers about the nature, number, and scope of government requests for data.
  • Strong encryption is a commercial necessity that underpins millions of daily transactions and allows companies to safely store and move sensitive information.

ECPA Reform Principles

  • ECPA reform should create a clear set of rules for law enforcement access that are in line with users’ expectations of digital privacy in the 21st century.  These rules should safeguard end-user privacy, provide clarity for service providers, and enable law enforcement to conduct effective and efficient investigations.
  • The ECPA statute needs to be updated to reflect how information is managed and stored today.
  • ECPA reform should provide a document stored in the cloud with the same protections the document would enjoy if it were stored under user control.
  • ECPA reform should require a warrant for content regardless of how old that stored content is or where it is stored.
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