You could well be excused for not noticing the recent passage of the U.S. Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act on March 23, 2018. Better known by its catchy acronym, the Cloud Act, the law was tacked on to the 2,232-page, US$1.3-trillion omnibus budget bill one day ahead of its vote and was signed into law by President Donald Trump without the benefit of the usual congressional scrutiny, hearings or significant public debate.
Supporters of the Cloud Act, including Senator Orrin Hatch, insisted it was a necessary “common sense framework to help law enforcement obtain critical information to solve crimes while at the same time enabling email and cloud computing providers to comply with countries’ differing privacy regimes.” Prior to the passage of the Cloud Act, U.S. law enforcement agencies, seeking to gain access to data stored overseas, had to seek agreement with authorities in the other country using the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty framework. Critics argued that the MLAT process was cumbersome and time-consuming, sometimes taking years.
This article was originally published in Canadian Lawyer Online. To read the full article, click here.