On December 15, 2021, Australia and the United States signed an agreement that will make it more efficient for law enforcement agencies in both countries to obtain data about criminal suspects, but it leaves technology companies with concerning questions. The new agreement was forged under the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, a 2018 statute that enables law enforcement to more easily secure important electronic information about suspected crimes—including terrorism, violent crimes, sexual exploitation of children, and cybercrimes like ransomware or attacks on critical infrastructure—from global technology companies based in the United States. Although the agreement was designed to facilitate law enforcement investigations, it leaves unanswered the encryption privacy questions that have beset preceding agreements.

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