Facing a potential government shutdown, the United States President Donald Trump has signed an omnibus spending bill of well over a trillion USD. Among its 2232 pages, the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) act was cleverly embedded with no true opportunity for opposition against it.
The CLOUD act will allow the US law enforcement broader access to Americans’ data, in addition to foreign governments gaining access to US companies for data on their own citizens. It applies to any country in the world and surprisingly, the bill was passed without debate, with both Republicans and Democrats having a unanimous agreement.
With the CLOUD act in place, governments can access online data such as messages, files, emails, etc. no matter where the server is located on the globe. What is more, the act authorizes US law enforcers to provide data from American servers to other countries, depending on a situation.
Perhaps expectedly the CLOUD act has received a great deal of criticism from privacy advocates with Electronic Frontier Foundation stating that, “this final, tacked-on piece of legislation will erode privacy protections around the world.”
On the day of the vote the outspoken Republican Senator Rand Paul claimed that, “Congress should reject the CLOUD Act because it fails to protect human rights or Americans’ privacy…gives up their constitutional role, and gives far too much power to the attorney general, the secretary of state, the president and foreign governments.“ He later added that the Congress can‘t even vote to reject it, as it‘s been added to the omnibus with no prior legislative action or review.
The content of the act allows the US to make deals with foreign governments and since every country in the world is included in the CLOUD act, this would allow governments of such countries as Philippines, Saudi Arabia or Venezuela to ask for information on their citizens. According to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) the bill, “undermines privacy and other human rights, as well as important democratic safeguards.” The ACLU even went on to say that CLOUD act conflicts with the Fourth Amendment.
However, as the saying goes, there’s two sides to every coin. In this case tech giants Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft (companies with a myriad of user data) have all defended the bill even teaming up to release a joint letter together, claiming that, “Our companies have long advocated for international agreements and global solutions to protect our customers and Internet users around the world. We have always stressed that dialogue and legislation – not litigation – is the best approach. If enacted, the CLOUD Act would be notable progress to protect consumers’ rights and would reduce conflicts of law.”
User privacy is an absolutely fundamental principle of the whole crypto industry and with the CLOUD act being passed, it seems like it‘s been dealt another blow.
Image Source: “Pixabay”