US and Australia Enter CLOUD Act Agreement

The United States has entered into an agreement with Australia to share electronic data so as to facilitate the investigation of serious crimes. 

Crimes that fall under the category of serious include terrorism, ransomware attacks, and the sexual abuse of children. 

The landmark agreement was authorized by the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, a bill passed by Congress in 2018. 

In a statement released Wednesday, the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs said that the agreement will offer strong protection for the rule of law, privacy, and civil liberties while helping police to obtain the data they need faster and more efficiently. 

“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,” said the office. 

With the new data-sharing agreement in place, authorities in each country will be able to obtain “certain electronic data” more efficiently from communications service providers operating in the other’s jurisdiction. 

“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 United States Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Garland and the Australian minister for home affairs, Karen Andrews, said the agreement would enhance cooperation between each country’s law enforcement agencies and help keep communities in both countries safe without infringing upon the values, principles, and sovereignty of either country.

“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 Andrews. 

She added: “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.