March 22, 2018

Whitehouse Applauds Inclusion in Omnibus of Bipartisan Legislation to Help Tech Companies Comply with Global Criminal Investigations

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) cheered inclusion in the omnibus spending bill of bipartisan legislation he cosponsored with fellow Senate Judiciary Committee members Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to help put the U.S. and other countries on a path towards resolving the problem of cross-border data requests by law enforcement in the age of email and cloud computing.

“Laws in the United States and abroad have struggled to keep up as more and more critical data is stored online,” said Whitehouse.  “We need clear rules of the road to help law enforcement solve crimes and tech companies honor consumers’ right to privacy for their data.  I’m proud that’s what this bipartisan legislation will help to do—let rule-of-law countries work together in a sensible legal framework to handle access to data.”

Existing law—both in the U.S. and around the world—has failed to keep pace with the evolution of internet-based communications technology, often referred to as cloud computing.  U.S. and foreign law enforcement investigating crimes increasingly rely on the assertion of extraterritorial authority to seek data stored outside their borders—data that is often essential to preventing and solving crime.  Technology companies, in turn, are caught between a rock and a hard place: confronting obligations to disclose data in one country while simultaneously facing laws in other countries that prohibit disclosure.

In February, the Senators introduced the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act to encourage governments to develop a clear framework for technology companies to comply with investigative demands.  The legislation incentivizes countries to remove conflicts of law and raise privacy standards.

Last May, Whitehouse joined Graham in leading a hearing of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism on facilitating law enforcement access to data stored across borders, which included British law enforcement leaders, Microsoft’s chief legal officer, and other experts.


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