Following a year of mixed messaging and confusion regarding government access to personal data and how companies are handling the issue, Google is putting it’s support behind a petition demanding the United States government require a warrant before accessing email of private citizens.
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt tweeted a link to the company’s post on Google+:
Doesn’t the stuff you keep online deserve the same protection as the stuff you keep offline? Under a law called ECPA, government agencies in the U.S. can see what you’ve written and stored online without a warrant. Sign this petition to the White House and tell the government to get a warrant!
The petition originated on November 12, 2013, and requires just over 42,000 signatures by December 12, 2013, to mean the threshold for a response from the White House. At the time of this writing, just over 57,000 signatures have been collected on the online petition.
The full petition reads as follows:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Reform ECPA: Tell the Government to Get a Warrant
Americans are deeply concerned about NSA surveillance.
But the NSA’s not the only problem. An outdated law says the IRS and hundreds of other agencies can read our communications without a warrant.
That law, known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), was written over 25 years ago, before the services we use today even existed.
Right now, several bills in Congress would fix this by updating ECPA to require a warrant, but regulatory bodies are blocking reform in order to gain new powers of warrantless access.
We call on the Obama Administration to support ECPA reform and to reject any special rules that would force online service providers to disclose our email without a warrant.
If you’re interested in joining Google in supporting the petition and helping it reach its goal before December 12, you can sign and promote the petition here (White House account required).