Australia And US Starting Talks On Data Sharing

The US and the AU recently started talks for a new data-sharing agreement between them. Notably, the AU made this move following the passing of new data security and encryption laws, which some say might jeopardize the negotiations. There’s also concerns about how data sharing will affect privacy and civil rights.

The talks was made public with a joint statement released on October 7, 2019, in which the US Attorney-General, William Barr, and the AU’s Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed the start of the formal negotiations for an agreement between the two countries under the US Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, which allows for faster access to data possessed by US-based tech companies by foreign countries, and vice versa.

The two representatives met in the US at that Monday in order to talk about an agreement.

According to AG Barr, the CLOUD Act was designed in order to let the US’s close partners with good protections for data security and civil liberties, like the AU, to get into executive agreements. The US, he adds, are looking forward to working with the AU’s Federal Government on the agreement, which he says will improve their ability to fight cybercrime by allowing for quicker access to data needed for investigations or inquiries.

Mr. Dutton stated that the current process needed for requesting data from a company based in the US could lead to a loss of key information, and was unacceptably slow.

Dutton says that, when police are investigating a serious crime or a key plot that endangers the AU’s citizens, they need to be able to proceed with no delays, but within the confines of the law, and the CLOUD Act is just for that. He adds that this is the future for like-minded countries.

The CLOUD Act, which came into effect at early 2018, allows for foreign governments to directly ask for data from a US-based tech company based on the country’s own laws, while also allowing the US to do the same for their country. The US recently entered into an agreement with the UK this week.