The Turnbull government is pushing for a deal with Washington that would let Australian police take a warrant directly to US tech companies and quickly access a suspected criminal’s data.
An agreement could help Australian authorities get around the vexing difficulty of accessing encrypted communications, regarded as one of the major challenges for police.
The talks follow the recent passage of a law by the US Congress that enables American agencies such as the FBI to demand – with a warrant – access to data from US-based tech companies even if the companies are holding that data in overseas clouds – a situation that is increasingly common.
As part of the new CLOUD Act, the Trump Administration can sign individual agreements with other countries to make the arrangement reciprocal. Britain is reportedly the first country in line with the new rules but Fairfax Media understands Australia hopes to be among the next few.
Mr Taylor said the CLOUD Act would improve the efficiency of law enforcement access to data where in the past processes could be cumbersome.
“Timely access to electronic data held by communications service providers is an essential component of government efforts to protect public safety and combat serious crime, including terrorism, child sex offences, and organised crime,” he said.
“Those efforts are impeded when access to important data held on servers overseas is slowed down by cumbersome processes not suited for fast-advancing communication environments, significantly delaying the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes.”
Australian police would still need a warrant. But they could get data much more quickly because they could take the warrant directly to big cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon.