A Justice Department official said Wednesday that Congress should refrain from making changes that could undercut a law on electronic evidence gathering that is a key law enforcement tool.
The head of a Senate committee said the law must be overhauled to ensure privacy protections.
The balancing act between law enforcement needs and privacy rights played out in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the Democratic chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, is spearheading an effort to revamp the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
Associate Deputy Attorney General James Baker urged the committee to move with caution in updating the law, which controls the law enforcement community's collection and disclosure of electronic evidence.
Leahy said the "explosion of cloud computing, social networking sites and other new technologies will be one of Congress's greatest challenges" in bringing the law up to date.