US CLOUD Act Gives Government Access to Private User Data

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The U.S. government added a last-minute act to their $1.3 Trillion spending bill, signed by president Donald Trump on March 23. The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act will allow U.S. officials as well as foreign governments to access personal data held by private companies for ongoing investigations, according to GeekWire.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a statement saying they were opposed to the new law: “This final, tacked-on piece of legislation will erode privacy protections around the globe.”

The bill, which was voted on Friday, passed 256-167 in the house and 65-23 in the senate.

Senator Rand Paul talked about the act on Twitter:

A joint letter posted on February 6 by Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Google shows another point of view regarding the CLOUD act:

“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.”

On March 21, Microsoft released a second statement to show their support for the CLOUD act:

“[The CLOUD act] creates a modern legal framework for how law enforcement agencies can access data across borders. It’s a strong statute and a good compromise that reflects recent bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, as well as support from the Department of Justice, the White House, the National Association of Attorneys General and a broad cross section of technology companies […] it gives tech companies like Microsoft the ability to stand up for the privacy rights of our customers around the world. The bill also includes a strong statement about the importance of preventing governments from using the new law to require that U.S. companies create backdoors around encryption, an important additional privacy safeguard.”

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