The CLOUD Act got passed amid the trillion dollars federal spending bill, almost in secret. An extension to the international law enforcement power pertaining to online activity, the act allows the law enforcement agencies to gain access to online information from around the world which has the crypto community in fear over privacy.
CLOUD Act passes: Endangers privacy
The Clarifying Law Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act introduced by the Republican Senator, Orrin Hatch, has been passed with the support of both Democratic and Republican Senators. This act will provide the law enforcement agencies with an easier access to the electronic data of the users that comprise of messages, files, and emails. These details aren’t only indigenous but also include that is stored in the foreign servers.
Additionally, this act also provides the US lawmakers with a framework to send the information on a case-by-case basis, from the US servers to other countries. The President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, Orrin hatch detailed:
“The CLOUD Act bridges the divide that sometimes exists between law enforcement and the tech sector by giving law enforcement the tools it needs to access data throughout the world while at the same time creating a commonsense framework to encourage international cooperation to resolve conflicts of law.”
Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple all in for CLOUD Act
The 2,232 pages document is basically a combined initiative of the big players viz. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Yahoo. A joint statement from these companies read:
“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, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is not in support of this act as it believes that this act evades the Fourth Amendment that requires a cause to start an investigation. While the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that it “provides an alarming level of discretion to the executive branch at the expense of congressional authority.”
Crypto community concerned
With incidents like whistleblower Edward Snowden revealing that the US government has been tracking the activities of bitcoin users, this act gives the government more power to invade and monitor the online privacy.
Andreas Anthopoulos, the bitcoin advocate showed his feelings with the tweet:
“The CLOUD Act passed. It destroys privacy globally, so it had to be snuck into the $1.3 trillion omnibus without debate. Encrypt. Encrypt. Encrypt. Go Dark. When privacy is criminalized, only criminals have privacy. We got sold out, again.”
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Having a background in writing, I worked on a wide array of industry topics and have recently entered the world of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.