Though the law remains unsettled, we are all accelerating our exposure in the cloud. It's not just our Web browsing, our online searches, our cloud-based storage and our cellphones. Everything we download to an e-reader leaves a trace, and the same is true of streaming music and videos.
So, when you get down to it, what is going to keep your refrigerator from talking to the IRS? How is it, the taxman might want to know, that you report only $35,000 in income, yet your fridge is stocked with caviar and Dom Perignon?
A good place to start to clear things up would be with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which hasn't been updated since 1986. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently voted in favor of a change, written by committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), that would require agencies to show probable cause that you've committed a crime and obtain a search warrant before they can snoop on your cloud-based data. But that proposal is going nowhere this year, and the committee's ranking Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, hints that he's not in favor of it.
Leahy is right and Grassley is wrong. Next year, Congress should adopt Leahy's amendment. If it doesn't, you'd better be careful about how you stock your smart fridge.
Preston Gralla is a Computerworld.com contributing editor and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).
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