Lofgren unveils privacy and Internet freedom bills

The first bill would update measures in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to adapt to the current landscape of new social networking and email services. Lofgren's bill, called ECPA 2.0, would establish standards that law enforcement would have to follow before collecting information about a person's location or gaining access to their emails and other online communications.

The standards included in the bill would be consistent with Fourth Amendment principles. For instance, the measure states that law enforcement would have to obtain a warrant before tracking the location of a person's wireless device or procuring their emails, Facebook messages and other online communications from a service provider.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously adopted a similar amendment from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last week and attached it to a House bill that aims to loosen video privacy rules.

Lofgren's second bill, the Global Free Internet Act, would prevent measures like SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), from resurfacing. 

It proposes to create a task force composed of public and private sector representatives that would identify and respond to policies by the U.S. and foreign government that threaten "to deny fair market access to Internet-related goods and services, or that threaten the technical operation, security, and the free flow of global Internet communications," according to a bill summary.

The task force would hold public hearings and coordinate the U.S. government's response to such threats. Task force members would include heads of federal agencies, four Americans nominated by House and Senate leaders, and four Americans who are not affiliated with the government and "are nominated by the Internet itself," the summary said.

The bill states that the U.S. trade representative, Homeland Security secretary, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board chairman, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's assistant secretary of communication, and the head of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers would sit on the task force.  Lofgren introduced a similar measure in 2010.

The two measures — ECPA 2.0 and the Global Free Internet Act — are being billed as legislation dedicated to protecting Internet freedom. After SOPA and PIPA went down in flames earlier this year, lawmakers have been quick to tout their commitment to Internet freedom, though the specifics of that freedom vary.

Lofgren was an outspoken opponent of SOPA and part of a bloc of House Judiciary Committee members who fought to block the bill's passage.