DOJ Official: Congress Must be Careful with Updates to Digital Privacy Law
By Andrew Ramonas | September 22, 2022 12:09 pm

A senior Justice Department official on Wednesday urged restraint as Congress considers updates to one of the leading digital privacy laws.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Associate Deputy Attorney General James A. Baker declined to specify what changes the DOJ thinks the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act needs. But he said the DOJ is committed to working with Congress if it drafts revisions to the bill.

“It’s very important that we get this right,” Baker said. “We just have to do it carefully.”

James A. Baker (photo by Andrew Ramonas / Main Justice)

Baker said any changes to the bill must protect privacy, while not limiting the ability of law enforcement officials to protect Americans from cybercrimes. He noted in his written testimony that authorities have been able to apprehend suspected child pornographers, drug traffickers and murderers through the authorities granted by the bill.

“For many years, EPCA has provided vital tools to law enforcement to investigate crime and to keep us safe, at the same time protecting individual privacy online,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) “As the country continues to grapple with the urgent need to develop a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy, determining how best to bring this privacy law into the digital age will be one of our biggest challenges, especially here in Congress.”

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