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Collins Introduces Bill to Update International Privacy Law for the Cloud

WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has introduced the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA), H.R. 3718, to outline when and how law enforcement may access electronic information stored abroad.

“Thirty years after Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, America needs statutes that address information security in an increasingly digital and global age. The International Communications Privacy Act will increase the effectiveness of American law enforcement and the privacy protections of U.S. citizens by correcting the legal ambiguity that has threatened both in recent years.

“Support for ICPA is growing, and the courts have made it clear that the time for Congress to act in this space has come. I’m grateful to Senator Hatch for his leadership on this issue and look forward to bringing clarity to the U.S. code that governs the cloud,” said Collins.

International conflicts of law have put U.S. electronic communications service providers in the position of having to choose which country’s codes to violate because they often store information in servers located throughout the world. ICPA gives these companies a clearer legal context for their operations and strengthens the relationships among American law enforcement agents and their foreign counterparts.

The legislation would also safeguard American data housed in servers outside the U.S. by requiring warrants from domestic law enforcement investigating criminal acts as well as reciprocity from foreign governments involved in such cases.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced ICPA in the Senate this July.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is the House bill’s lead co-sponsor. Other co-sponsors of H.R. 3718 include Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.

“I applaud Reps. Collins and Jeffries for introducing a House companion to ICPA. It is past time for Congress to address the critically important issue of international data privacy and the need to establish a sensible legal framework for law enforcement to access extraterritorial communications,” Senator Hatch said.

“The potential global reach of government warrant authority has significant implications for multinational businesses and their customers. Failing to address this issue in a reasonable, comprehensive way will only continue to cause problems between American businesses and the U.S. government. ICPA will aid US law enforcement while safeguarding consumer privacy, striking a much-needed balance in today’s data-driven economy.”

“The internet is a powerful tool that requires updated rules to ensure we’re protecting the privacy of every American while still allowing law enforcement to do their jobs. In terms of lawful access to data stored abroad, it is Congress' responsibility to help strike the right balance between liberty and public safety. Rep. Collins and all involved should be commended for their efforts in this regard," said Jeffries.

“As technology has made tremendous leaps and bounds, our digital privacy laws unfortunately have stayed frozen in time. Today, the growth of cloud computing, online storage, and other services are increasingly taking American data to servers and other facilities all across the world. The conflict created between different legal systems can undermine consumer privacy and cause uncertainty as to when law enforcement may or may not access certain information on those servers. Fixing this problem is a matter that must be handled by Congress and not left to judges relying on decades old statutes. I am proud to have worked on this issue for years as it’s of critical importance to our digital future. This bill will codify privacy rights in a manner that strikes an important balance in safeguarding privacy while establishing a clear framework to ensure requests for information comply with the law and our Constitutional rights,”said Issa.

“Updating our laws to reflect the way the world works in the 21st century has been one of my top priorities in Congress. I’ve supported a number of different proposals to reform our electronic privacy laws and will continue to push for those, including the International Communications Privacy Act,” DelBene said.

“This bill guarantees that users of technology have confidence that their privacy rights will be protected by due process while simultaneously ensuring law enforcement agencies have necessary access to information through a clear, legal framework to keep us safe.”

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