Orin S. Kerr, Law Library Scholar-in-Residence for the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation Program on Demography, Technology, and Criminal Justice at the Library of Congress, has had a couple of busy weeks. On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, he testified before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. The topic of his testimony was Investigating and Prosecuting 21st Century Cyber Threats and concerned the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1030. On Tuesday, March 19, 2013, he appeared before the Subcommittee again to testify on the reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) which regulates government access to Internet communications and records.
The topic of this hearing is also the subject of the work Professor Kerr is doing as Law Library Scholar-in-Residence for the Guggenheim Program. In reporting on the hearing, Professor Kerr stated, The hearing was pretty fascinating for electronic privacy nerds: Everyone seemed to agree that the laws needed revising, and even DOJ was on board with the basic idea of expanding privacy protections to have a general warrant requirement for access to stored contents. Thats a major shift in the pro-privacy direction. Of course, theres a long way to go before any legislation is actually passed. But the hearing was pretty promising.
Professor Kerr has also completed a draft of his work, The Next Generation Privacy Act, which argues that Congress should repeal the existing privacy laws regulating government access to Internet records (ECPA) and replace them with a new statute that reflects current technologies and current privacy threats. The draft of Professor Kerrs paper has been accepted for publication in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review (forthcoming 2013).
The Guggenheim Program at the Library of Congress is making great progress, and we are planning a series of webinars for May 2013. I anticipate that we will have a panel discussion on the issues discussed in Professor Kerrs work, namely the proposed revision of ECPA. The panel will be comprised of leading attorneys, academics, and other eminent professionals who assist Congress in defining the new rules that will apply in this cutting-edge area of law. More information will be provided on the webinar as we get closer to May, so watch this space!
We are grateful to the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation for allowing the Library of Congress to create a program focused on developing new research in criminal justice, and for their generous support of this program.