United States Passed a Law Giving the Government Access to Foreign Information

The members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress approved a bill through which the US authorities will be able to receive confidential information stored outside national borders.

The Bill CLOUD was first introduced by the senators in the February of 2018. It clarifies and supplements the Law on the Storage of Information, adopted in 1986. Its essence lies in the possibility for the US to enter into bilateral agreements with other countries and to get access to data on citizens and companies that is stored on foreign servers from technology companies, Cointelegraph reports.

Supporters of privacy protection, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, protested against the act. The EFF wrote: “This final, legislatively enacted bill will lead to an erosion of the protection of confidentiality around the world”.

The senator Rand Paul wrote on Saturday, the 22nd of March, the day of the voting, that “the Congress must give up the CLOUD Act because it does not protect the human rights or privacy of Americans … renounces its constitutional role and gives too much power to the attorney general, state secretaries, the president and foreign governments, ” but adding the following:

On the other hand, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft reacted positively to the bill writing a joint letter on the 6th of February. The companies supported CLOUD, writing about the need to protect customers, which this act would allow to do:

“Our companies have long advocated for international agreements and global solutions to protect our customers and Internet users around the world. We have always stressed that dialogue and legislation – not litigation – is the best approach. If enacted, the CLOUD Act would be notable progress to protect consumers’ rights and would reduce conflicts of law.”

Support of the law was expressed by the president of Microsoft, Brad Smith. He wrote in his Twitter on the eve of voting in Congress that the vote on the bill is an “important step” in the significance of CLOUD. According to him, changes in the legislation will allow law enforcement agencies to “legally receive data from other countries”.

The adoption of the law may affect the consideration of the case of Microsoft in the US Supreme Court. Now the judges are deciding whether the US Department of Justice had the right to force the company to provide the customers’ emails, which are stored on the servers of the company in Ireland, without the permission of the Irish government.

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