Stephen P. Mulligan, Cross-Border Data Sharing Under the CLOUD Act (CRS Report R45173) (Apr. 23, 2018) (full-text).
Law enforcement officials in the United States and abroad increasingly seek access to electronic communications, such as emails and social media posts, stored on servers and in data centers in foreign countries. Because the architecture of the internet allows technology companies to store data at a great distance from the physical location of their customers, electronic communications that could serve as evidence of a crime often are not housed in the same country where the crime occurred. This disconnect has caused governments around the world, including the United States, to seek data stored outside their territorial jurisdictions. In the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (the CLOUD Act) Congress enacted one of the first major changes in years to U.S. law governing cross-border access to electronic communications held by private companies.
This publication discusses the amendment made to the Stored Communications Act for domestic law enforcement and additionaL changes to assist foreign law enforcement seeking access to electronic communications stored in the United States that could serve as evidence of a crime committed outside the United States.