On October 7, 2019, the United States and Australia announced they have entered into formal negotiations for a bilateral agreement under the U.S. Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (the CLOUD Act). The two governments also hosted a roundtable on trusted technology ecosystems.
Negotiations of a CLOUD Act Agreement
United States Attorney General William Barr and Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, announced the negotiations during a meeting.
Supported by Australian legislation yet to be introduced, a bilateral CLOUD Act agreement would enable Australian law enforcement to serve domestic orders for communications data needed to combat serious crime directly on U.S.-based companies, and vice versa.
On October 3, 2019, the United States and United Kingdom concluded the first ever CLOUD Act Agreement. It will permit U.S. and British law enforcement agencies, with appropriate authorization, to demand electronic data concerning serious crime, including terrorism, child sexual abuse, and cybercrime, directly from tech companies based in the other country, without legal barriers.
The announcement of U.S.-Australian negotiations of a CLOUD Act Agreement provides additional momentum to the U.S. government efforts of having an expedited process for directly obtaining access to electronic evidence from the platform providers.
Roundtable on Trusted Technology Ecosystems
Also on October 7, Attorney General William P. Barr and Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton hosted a government-industry roundtable discussion titled, “Shaping a Trusted Technology Ecosystem,” with more than a dozen representatives from the tech-industry landscape.
A Department of Justice press release characterized the dialogue as a critical step in jointly addressing complex supply chain challenges faced by both nations. The collaborative discussion presented an opportunity for industry, Australia and the United States to work together on solutions to ensure an open marketplace, achieve a diverse range of secure technology options, and enhance global technology markets characterized by trust, transparency, and fair competition. One issue is whether to try to prevent Huawei from developing for the Western countries and the world in general the 5G network. The U.S. does not trust Huawei from a national security perspective because it believes that the Chinese government will control Huawei’s practices and enable the Chinese government to obtain surveillance periodically. Until now, Australia has cooperated with the U.S. on the initiative to block Huawei even though Australia is increasingly subject to Chinese economic and foreign policy pressure due to China’s growing role in Australia and the region. The issue of trusted technology ecosystems also concerns the Internet and data privacy.