A parliamentary inquiry has given the green light to greater information sharing with US law enforcement despite its concern Australians will be kept in the dark about the number of orders made for data.
The joint standing committee on treaties has approved Australia’s Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (Cloud) Act agreement with the US. The agreement was signed by the Morrison government in December 2021, labelling it an “important tool” for investigating serious crime.
The deal allows law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Australia and the US to demand data directly from communication service providers operating in the other jurisdiction.
The new system, enabled by legislation in mid-2021 and now set for formal ratification, will allow authorities to obtain data in days or weeks, rather than months or years.
The agreement provides for safeguards including that a company can raise concerns about an order with a “designated authority” in its home country or appeal against the order in a court.
Each country retains control of how data is used in cases involving “essential interests”, including death penalty cases in the US and cases involving free speech in Australia.
The AIIA and NSW Council for Civil Liberties warned that Privacy Act protections requiring consent for the collection, use and disclosure of “sensitive information” would not apply.
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