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New Deal Expected to Let UK Bypass Your 4th Amendment Rights

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EFF

Code hacker dataLaw enforcement officials in the US and UK have negotiated a deal that sells out the privacy rights of the public in both nations. For Americans, it will effectively abrogate Fourth Amendment protections, and subject their data to search and seizure by foreign police.

This is all going to start happening in a few months — unless Congress does something to stop it now. That’s why we’re launching an action today, asking you to reach out to your members of Congress and tell them to introduce a joint resolution that could put a halt to the deal. If it isn’t stopped, the worst parts of this deal will likely come standard on future agreements, and Americans will be subject to more and more searches by foreign police.

The full text of the US-UK Cloud Act Agreement was unveiled in November, and it’s just as bad as we thought it would be. We joined with 19 other privacy, civil liberties, and human rights organizations, and sent a letter to Congress going through the long list of problems with the first Cloud Act deal.

Some of the key problems with the US-UK Agreement include:

  • The agreement includes a weak standard for review, that doesn’t meet the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement
  • There’s no prior judicial authorization required
  • The deal includes no safeguards for free expression
  • The people put under surveillance don’t need to be notified, on any level
  • The “minimization” procedures meant to protect US persons are unfair, unequal, and won’t do the job
  • It will grant real-time access to communications, allowing foreign police to wiretap Americans’ conversations, ignoring the high requirements for a wiretap under US law
  • These extraordinary search powers given to foreign police can be used even for relatively low-level crimes

In colonial times, the British military used general warrants to search through houses and seize property. This practice was part of what fueled the American Revolution, and formed the basis for the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Congress shouldn’t let an executive agreement, negotiated behind closed doors, give away rights that have been enshrined in US law for nearly 250 years.

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© 2020 Electronic Frontier Foundation, CC BY 3.0 US

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