Rep. Mimi Walters (R-California) has a strong reputation for standing up for the rights of Americans. While serving in the California Assembly, Walters worked for eminent domain reform, to protect property rights, after the 2005 Supreme Court decision, in Kelo vs. New London, that expanded eminent domain authority. Walters is also the co-founder of the California Women’s Leadership Association.
As Congress has relinquished much of it’s legislative authority to the executive branch over the years, there is an effort to reverse this trend. In the current Congress and Senate there is an effort to re-assert congressional legislative authority called 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.
Another effort to protect America’s rights takes place this coming week with the hearing being held before the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is a consistent advocate of the Tenth Amendment and limited government, has called the hearing, titled “International Conflicts of Law Concerning Cross Border Data Flow and Law Enforcement Requests.” This will be a key opportunity to inform the American people about how privacy protections in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) need to be updated to account for changes in technology that have taken place over the years since it was enacted by Congress.
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.
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, is a truly balanced approach to reforming the ECPA. 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.
This debate in Congress over reforming the ECPA is a key opportunity for our elected leaders to stand up for key privacy rights. Rep. Mimi Walters has established a strong record in California, as well as in Washington D.C., in standing up for the rights of Americans on eminent domain reform and many other issues. The House Judiciary Committee hearing this coming week on privacy of electronic data is a great opportunity to defend and protect key privacy rights of Americans under the 4th Amendment.