Google proposes a new framework of direct access to digital evidences

Google has proposed setting up a new policy framework of direct requests by countries to the US Internet industry to obtain digital evidences for serious crimes conducted in their jurisdictions. The framework would apply to countries that honour privacy, human rights and due process. According to Google, the US national legal framework, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), should be adapted to base the requests of law enforcement authorities (LEA) on the location of the authority rather than of evidences. Google also considers the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) as a good base to allow US Congress to update laws governing digital evidences. Further, Google proposes countries to sign bilateral agreements with the US, creating a functional alternative to very lengthy diplomatic Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) process of acquiring digital evidences. According to a speech by Kent Walker, Google SVP & General Counsel, delivered at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, non-existance of international legal framework for cross-border access to evidences, coupled with provisions of the existing US laws like ECPA, make it complicated for US-based Internet industry to provide timely assistance to countries. Currently, most LEA cooperation rely on MLATs, which can take almost a year to resolve a case. At the same time, Internet industry faces responses by governments to these challenges that are not in the interests of the industry: requests for localisation of personal data, and extraterritorial jurisdiction of courts over global business. The new framework is a proposed response by Google to such challenges.