U.K. Police Will Soon be able to Search Through U.S. Data Without Asking a Judge

By Joe Mullin

Law enforcement officials in the U.S. and U.K. have negotiated a deal that sells out the privacy rights of the public in both nations. For Americans, it will effectively abrogate Fourth Amendment protections, and subject their data to search and seizure by foreign police.

This is all going to start happening in a few months—unless Congress does something to stop it now. That’s why we’re launching an action today, asking you to reach out to your members of Congress and tell them to introduce a joint resolution that could put a halt to the deal. If it isn’t stopped, the worst parts of this deal will likely come standard on future agreements, and Americans will be subject to more and more searches by foreign police.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Stop the U.S.-U.K. Cloud Act Deal

The full text of the U.S.-U.K. Cloud Act Agreement was unveiled in November, and it’s just as bad as we thought it would be. We joined with 19 other privacy, civil liberties, and human rights organizations, and sent a letter to Congress going through the long list of problems with the first Cloud Act deal.

Some of the key problems with the U.S.-U.K. Agreement include:

  • The agreement includes a weak standard for review, that doesn’t meet the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement
  • There’s no prior judicial authorization required
  • The deal includes no safeguards for free expression
  • The people put under surveillance don’t need to be notified, on any level
  • The “minimization” procedures meant to protect U.S. persons are unfair, unequal, and won’t do the job
  • It will grant real-time access to communications, allowing foreign police to wiretap Americans’ conversations, ignoring the high requirements for a wiretap under U.S. law
  • These extraordinary search powers given to foreign police can be used even for relatively low-level crimes

In colonial times, the British military used general warrants to search through houses and seize property. This practice was part of what fueled the American Revolution, and formed the basis for the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Congress shouldn’t let an executive agreement, negotiated behind closed doors, give away rights that have been enshrined in U.S. law for nearly 250 years.


Article source: EFF.org

Joe Mullin is a policy analyst on EFF’s intellectual property team, where he works on patent reform, copyright issues, and free speech online. Before joining EFF, Joe worked as a reporter covering legal affairs for the technology website Ars Technica, and American Lawyer’s magazine group. Earlier in his journalism career, Joe wrote for The Associated Press and The Seattle Times. He has a bachelors degree in history and a masters in journalism, both from the University of California at Berkeley. Outside of his work at EFF, Joe enjoys trail running and cycling.

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