The LEADS Act: A common sense reform of our outdated privacy laws

Today’s bipartisan introduction of the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act of 2015 is an important step to reform our outdated privacy laws. We commend the sponsors – Senators Hatch, Coons and Heller – for introducing this critical legislation in the United States Senate.

Microsoft supports the LEADS Act for its common sense reforms. The LEADS Act is a real solution to a real problem.

For the last 18 months there has been a vibrant debate about how to balance personal privacy and public safety. It’s clear that there is an urgent need to move past debate and take action. Citizens around the world don’t believe their privacy rights are sufficiently protected, while law enforcement officials express concerns about their ability to do their jobs.

It’s clear that 2015 needs to be a year for solutions.

Any solution starts with updating our outdated laws so that they reflect the technology of today and not that of thirty years ago. We need to ensure that law enforcement can access the information it needs while people benefit from the privacy they deserve, all pursuant to proper legal process and the rule of law. We need to protect the global nature of modern technology, while preserving the role that governments play in protecting the privacy of their citizens. To do this, governments must respect each other’s borders and national sovereignty, while also enabling law enforcement cooperation across borders at Internet speed under new international rules.

The bill introduced today strengthens the protection of Constitutional due process rights and limits the extraterritorial reach of search warrants. It also proposes a more principled legal blueprint for balancing law enforcement needs with consumer privacy rights. It creates an important model that will help advance the international conversation that is so critically needed. Further, the LEADs Act is consistent with ongoing ECPA reform efforts supported by Microsoft.

We’re joining a broad coalition of companies and associations in the technology, telecommunications, manufacturing and cloud computing sectors to advocate for passage of the LEADS Act.

Passage of the LEADS Act would be a very important step, but there is more to do to ensure that 2015 becomes a year for solutions that promote personal privacy and protect public safety.