DOJ Seeks New Law to Require U.S. Firms to Deliver Overseas User Data
NEWS ANALYSIS: After their loss in a federal appeals court, the Department of Justice is looking for ways to bypass current warrant limitations with new bilateral agreements.The day the Department of Justice lost its case before the U.S. Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, in which it was seeking to force Microsoft to turn over email content stored on a server in Ireland, it presented a plan to sidestep those limits with new legislation. The DOJ revealed its plans at a meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus. The presentation included a draft of proposed legislation attached to a letter to Vice President Joe Biden and a white paper explaining the need for it. The draft legislation is part of a proposed bilateral agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom that would allow courts and other designated investigative agencies to directly order the release of private user information held by U.S. companies. The proposed legislation specifies that the information being sought must be about foreign nationals located outside the United States and that the request must be in accordance with the laws of both the United States and the foreign government—in this case, the United Kingdom.
The proposed legislation would require passage by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and it would need to be signed by the president. If passed in its current form, the legislation would provide protection for U.S. companies that had to comply with the laws of the country demanding the information. The bulk of the legislation actually consists of amendments to existing laws that govern how private information located on the internet is protected and who can see it.