Stein Joins Bipartisan Coalition of 36 Attorneys General Calling on Congress to Pass Law that Would Clarify when Law Enforcement Can Obtain Email Data Stored on Foreign Servers
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged Congress to pass the Clarify Lawful Overseas Use of Data (“CLOUD”) Act to promote public safety in North Carolina. The CLOUD Act would update and amend several provisions of the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) to clarify that law enforcement officials can obtain warrants, based on probable cause, to access computer data that is under the control of United States-based technology companies, even though it is stored on a foreign server.
“American companies storing American data on a foreign server and preventing law enforcement access to it gives criminals a loophole to act outside the law,” said Attorney General Stein. “This cannot be allowed. Access to this data will help law enforcement bring criminals to justice. This is why I support the CLOUD Act.”
Under the SCA, a law enforcement agency may obtain a warrant to search an individual’s email or other online account when there is probable cause to believe that the account contains evidence of a crime. Once issued, an SCA warrant is served on a service provider who must then collect the requested data and provide it to law enforcement.
State and local law enforcement agencies routinely use SCA warrants to investigate all manner of crimes, from drug trafficking to murder to child sexual exploitation. Recently, however, some service providers have argued that an SCA warrant cannot be enforced when the data is stored on a foreign server – even if the provider and the customer who created the data are in the United States and the data can be accessed from the United States.
This dispute has spawned litigation across the country, including the case of United States v. Microsoft, which is currently pending in the United States Supreme Court. Attorney General Stein previously signed an amicus brief in that case.
In sending today’s letter, Attorney General Stein was joined by the attorneys general of Vermont, Utah, Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484