Google proposed a new international legal framework Thursday to govern how law enforcement conduct cross-border requests for data, according to speech addressed to The Heritage Foundation by Google general counsel Kent Walker.
Walker believes current laws around digital evidence gathering are outdated and hamper both law enforcement and user privacy. Because of the growth of cloud-reliant technology, it is time for a legal realignment because of "the very real security threats that face people and communities, and the expectations of privacy that internet users have in their communications," Walker said.
Instead, Google wants digital evidence to be based on the location and nationality of users, not the location of data.
Google wants Congress to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which was implemented long before the widespread advent of cloud computing.
Since then, it has become more and more common for companies to store data around the world, and when law enforcement wants access to that data for a criminal investigation, tech companies often find themselves in the middle of legal wrangling that eats up both time and money.
Instead, Walker proposes that countries make direct requests to service providers for user data that pertains to crimes that happen within their borders and users within their jurisdiction. But the proposal would require new U.S. legislation to make changes.
Microsoft has been fighting to update the ECPA as well. Microsoft recently became involved in a lawsuit with the Department of Justice over a 2013 warrant that mandated the company release a drug trafficking case suspect’s email account data stored on a server in Ireland. Amazon, Verizon Communications and Cisco Systems, in addition to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Software Alliance, all filed legal briefs supporting Microsoft.