US Congress Passed New “CLOUD Act”

US Congress Passed New “CLOUD Act” Giving Them Easier

Access To YOUR Data

The controversial CLOUD Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data) was snuck into the 2,232 page government spending bill that needed to be passed in order to avoid another government shutdown on March 23rd. The bill was given to members of the House of Representatives 1 day before it needed to be approved.

Tech Companies, like Apple & Facebook, wrote a joint letter supporting the Act and stated the following:

“The new Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act reflects a growing consensus in favor of protecting Internet users around the world and provides a logical solution for governing cross-border access to data. Introduction of this bipartisan legislation is an important step toward enhancing and protecting individual privacy rights, reducing international conflicts of law and keeping us all safer.”

However, upon reading closer, it appears the Act allows for further erosion of users privacy rights. The act will allow foreign governments and law enforcement agencies to have easier access to private data stored on servers overseas.

A number of nonprofit groups opposed the Act on privacy grounds, including American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The EFF has strong concerns that the Act was never reviewed or marked up by any committee and was attached as an unrelated data bill to the $1.3 trillion government spending bill.

They go on to state:

“Because of this failure, U.S. and foreign police will have new mechanisms to seize data across the globe. Because of this failure, your private emails, your online chats, your Facebook, Google, Flickr photos, your Snapchat videos, your private lives online, your moments shared digitally between only those you trust, will be open to foreign law enforcement without a warrant and with few restrictions on using and sharing your information. Because of this failure, U.S. laws will be bypassed on U.S. soil.”

Highlights of The CLOUD Act

The CLOUD Act is a far-reaching, privacy-upending piece of legislation that will:

  • Enable foreign police to collect and wiretap people’s communications from U.S. companies, without obtaining a U.S. warrant.
  • Allow foreign nations to demand personal data stored in the United States,without prior review by a judge.
  • Allow the U.S. president to enter “executive agreements” that empower police in foreign nations that have weaker privacy laws than the United States to seize data in the United States while ignoring U.S. privacy laws.
  • Allow foreign police to collect someone’s data without notifying them about it.
  • Empower U.S. police to grab any data, regardless if it’s a U.S. person’s or not, no matter where it is stored.

It’s unclear how the government will actually utilize its new powers from the Act. If you are concerned about your data being accessed, some projects like Sia and ZenCashare helping to build communities, systems, and payment networks to keep your privacy and data in your own hands.