US, UK Sign Cross-border Data Access Agreement

By Reuters

The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have called on Facebook In to not go ahead with end-to-end encryption across its messaging services unless law enforcement officials have backdoor access, saying encryption hindered the fight against child abuse and terrorism.

The United States and the U.K. signed a special data agreement on Thursday, Oct. 3 that would fast track requests from law enforcement to technology companies for information about the communications of terrorists and child predators.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and British Interior Minister Priti Patel signed the agreement at the British embassy in Washington.

Law enforcement could get information in weeks or even days instead of the current wait of six months to two years.

In an open letter to Facebook and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, the three allies said that while they supported strong encryption, it was necessary to balance the need for secure data with public safety.

They urged Facebook and other companies to “enable law enforcement to obtain lawful access to content in a readable and usable format”.

The letter was signed by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, U.K. Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel and Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton.

“Unfortunately, Facebook has not committed to address our serious concerns about the impact its proposals could have on protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” the letter reads.