Industry groups and privacy and civil liberties groups split this week over a proposed fix from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to Justice Department demands for emails and other data stored in overseas servers.
The issue has been highly contentious since 2014 when Microsoft refused to comply with a Justice Department warrant for customer emails stored in a data center in Ireland, arguing only Irish law enforcement could request those emails. Google later refused a similar order. The Microsoft case will reach the Supreme Court later this month.
Hatch’s plan, dubbed the CLOUD Act, essentially gives the go ahead for warrants aimed at overseas data but gives data storage companies and the countries where they store that data an opportunity to object in a U.S. court. A judge would then decide “whether, in the interests of international comity, the warrant should be modified or quashed.” The bill is a course reversal for Hatch who, in the last congress, sponsored a bill that would bar U.S. law enforcement from demanding overseas data unless it was about a U.S. person or the host country agreed to obtain and hand over the data using its own legal processes.