Big Tech-Supported 'CLOUD Act' Is Yet Another Warrantless Surveillance Bill (Updated)


Updated, 3/26/2018, 12:20pm PT: President Trump signed the omnibus spending bill after first threatening to veto it (for reasons unrelated to the CLOUD Act) on Friday.

EPIC, a digital rights organization, submitted an amicus brief in the related Microsoft vs. Ireland court case that's now being heard by the Supreme court. EPIC believes that law enforcement access to data stored in foreign countries should be obtained under international consensus and comply with human rights norms. Many organizations have endorsed the Madrid Privacy Declaration, which would establish strong international privacy protections for personal data.

Original article, 3/23/2018, 8:30am PT:

After finally being able to renew and extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), despite much criticism and controversy, Congress passed yet another warrantless surveillance law called the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act) mere months later.
The bill, which was added to the omnibus spending bill at the last minute, without any debate, also received support from big technology companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and others. The bill is yet to be signed by President Trump.

What Is The CLOUD Act?
The CLOUD Act will allow foreign law enforcement to request data from American companies, even if the data is hosted on U.S. soil, without obtaining any judicial approval or warrant from a U.S. judge. It will also work in reverse, and it will essentially undo an Appeals Court's ruling in the U.S. that said that law enforcement can't get an American's data if it was stored on servers abroad.

It will also do away with the Mutual Legal Assistant Treaty (MLAT), which required foreign powers seeking data to jump through several hoops. First, they had to send a request to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), then the DOJ had to get a judge’s approval, and then the foreign government would finally be able to get the data from the American tech company.

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