WASHINGTON, USA – The United States and Australia, December 15, signed a landmark agreement that will facilitate access to electronic data for investigations of serious crime, including terrorism and child sexual abuse.
The agreement is authorized by the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, a bill Congress passed in 2018.
The CLOUD Act Agreement will help ensure Australian and US law enforcement agencies are able to timely access electronic data to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute serious crime, including child sexual abuse, ransomware attacks, terrorism and the sabotage of critical infrastructure over the internet.
The CLOUD Act Agreement enables authorities in each country to obtain certain electronic data more efficiently from communications service providers operating in the other’s jurisdiction, thereby significantly reducing the time taken to obtain information relevant to ongoing investigations. The agreement also includes strong protections for the rule of law, privacy and civil liberties.
“This Agreement paves the way for more efficient cross-border transfers of data between the United States and Australia so that our governments can more effectively counter serious crime, including terrorism, while adhering to the privacy and civil liberties values that we both share,” said US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
US attorney-general Garland and Australian minister for home affairs Karen Andrews said the agreement would enhance law enforcement cooperation and help keep communities in both countries safe, while protecting the values, principles and sovereignty of the United States and Australia.
“As we saw in Operation Ironside – known in the United States as Operation Trojan Shield – the Australian Federal Police and the FBI are already capable of smashing serious, organized crime networks using sophisticated digital techniques,” said minister Andrews. “By strengthening both nations’ ability to fight crime, and giving our law enforcement agencies more efficient access to evidence, we’re ensuring the safety, security and prosperity of our citizens.”
The CLOUD Act Agreement will now undergo Parliamentary and Congressional review processes in both countries.