Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) has become among the strongest defenders of limited government in the current Congress. Gohmert served in the U.S. Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps between 1978 and 1982 before the voters of his district elected him to Congress in 2004. In his more than a decade of service in Congress, Rep. Gohmert has been consistent in standing up for limited government, less needless regulation, tax relief for hard-working Americans and individual liberty.
The election of Republican majorities in both houses of Congress have brought about renewed efforts to focus on limiting government and revitalizing key checks and balances between the three co-equal branches of the federal government. One of those is the Article I Project, lead by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). Under this plan, the Congress will once again function as the first among three co-equal branches of government as the authors of our Constitution intended. One key area where Congress can assert Article I authority is privacy rights under the 4th Amendment.
The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on key 4th Amendment issues, called by its chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is a consistent advocate of the Tenth Amendment and limited government. The hearing is titled “International Conflicts of Law Concerning Cross Border Data Flow and Law Enforcement Requests.” With the many changes in technology that have taken place over the years, this hearing will be a great opportunity to show the American people how the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) needs to be updated to strengthen protection of key privacy rights.
Key privacy rights over electronic data, for businesses and individuals, have been highlighted by the Microsoft case, where the Department of Justice has asserted authority to obtain data from foreign-based cloud servers without a warrant and without going through the legal process in the country where the servers are located. The Justice Dept. ignored the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with Ireland in asserting authority to obtain the data from a cloud server used by a subsidiary of Microsoft, in violation of their privacy rights.
A truly balanced approach to reforming the ECPA could be achieved by passing The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act) that would allow needed law enforcement access to data via the warrant process while also protecting the privacy rights of businesses and individuals. Additionally, this will protect America’s competitive edge in the world economy by enabling and protecting the ability to innovate through the use of cloud servers and other computing technology.
Congress has a key role to play here, and with the leadership of Rep. Goodlatte and Rep. Gohmert, ECPA can be updated and key privacy rights can be protected. Rep. Louis Gohmert has proven to be among the strongest defenders of limited government in the Congress. The hearing on privacy regarding electronic data before the House Judiciary Committee is a wonderful opportunity for Congress to re-assert its Article 1 authority to make law and protect the key rights of the American people.