Australia this week signed a deal with the U.S. that will allow both countries to exchange information – electronic data – for the purposes of investigating serious crime such as terrorism or child exploitation.
The deal was authorised by the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act. The CLOUD Act creates a legal framework regulating how law enforcement can access data across borders.
Australia and the U.S. have been working on a deal under this Bill since October 2019. It’s the second CLOUD Act agreement the U.S. has signed, with the first allowing it to compel data from the UK.
It took a few years as Australia needed to have some of its own legislation passed before this type of arrangement would be lawful.
Essentially, 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. Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said it significantly reduces the time taken to obtain information relevant to ongoing investigations.
The CLOUD Act permits the Australian government to go directly to U.S.-based communications service providers (CSP) through a legal process, rather than needing to go through the U.S. government, and vice versa.
“The agreement also includes strong protections for the rule of law, privacy and civil liberties,” she adds in a statement.
“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,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said on the arrangement.