As usage of cloud technology expands, stronger safeguards for information stored in the cloud would allow media companies to better leverage the technology, a paper by the Media Institute says. The nonprofit aims to foster a competitive media and communications industry, freedom of speech and better journalism. Outdated provisions in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) didn’t contemplate the rise of off-site data storage, said the paper’s author Kurt Wimmer, a partner with law firm Covington. That means government agencies have relatively easy access to personal emails and other sensitive information stored in the cloud longer than 6 months. “This vulnerability has left many media organizations reluctant to adopt cloud computing, which offers a broad range of advantages including more efficient movement of information across platforms and significant cost savings,” said Wimmer. The recently introduced Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS), co-sponsored by Sen Dean Heller (R-NV), would remedy the shortcomings of ECPA and provide “the common-sense safeguards needed by news operations to maintain the trust of confidential sources,” according to Wimmer, a member of the Board of Trustees at the Media Institute. Tech companies and groups including Cisco, Apple, and the Telecom Industry Association generally support the bill, which will require a warrant to access stored content irrespective of how old the content is, among other things.

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