As part of the new CLOUD Act, The Turnbull government is working towards a deal with Washington’s Trump Administration which would allow Australian police to quickly access a suspected criminal’s data with a warrant which can taken directly to US cloud providers and tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.
This agreement could help Australian authorities around challenges of accessing encrypted communications and allow each country’s law enforcement agencies to easily access data stored in computer “clouds” of both countries. “Timely access to electronic data held by communications service providers is an essential component of government efforts to protect public safety and combat serious crime, including terrorism, child sex offences, and organised crime,” says Angus Taylor, Australia’s Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Minister.
Fairfax Media understands Mr. Taylor will visit the US in the next fortnight and express Australia’s eagerness to strike an agreement as soon as possible, to help Australian authorities get around the problem of accessing encrypted communications.
US firms have traditionally rejected Australian police requests for data from cloud companies due to legal complications in the US regarding warrants for data. Mr Taylor said the CLOUD Act would improve the efficiency of law enforcement access to data where in the past processes could be difficult.
“Those efforts are impeded when access to important data held on servers overseas is slowed down by cumbersome processes not suited for fast-advancing communication environments, significantly delaying the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes.”
Some rights groups such as Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union have criticised the US law on grounds that governments should not scrutinise requests for data in their own countries, but rather be up to the cloud providers to challenge any authorization requests.