The US president, Donald Trump has reportedly signed into law a contentious bill which will allow the government access to more data of US citizens. The Act, Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (or simply, CLOUD Act) was signed on Friday, Mar. 23 as part of the omnibus $1.3 trillion Federal Spending Bill.
The CLOUD Act – (H.R. 4943)
The Act was originally proposed on February 6, 2018, as an amendment to the United States Stored Communications Act (SCA) of 1986. It will empower the US government to request data from US-based data service companies through a warrant or subpoena whether the servers are on US soil or in other countries.
The Act was added to the spending bill on Wednesday night before it was passed by the House and Senate on Thursday with margins of 256-167 and 65-23 respectively.
Opposition and Support for the CLOUD Act
One of the senators who spoke against the bill was Senator Rand Paul. On Thursday the Republican senator called for the bill to be jettisoned due to privacy and Human Rights concerns. In a tweet, he said, “Congress should reject the CLOUD Act because it fails to protect human rights or Americans’ privacy…gives up their constitutional role, and gives far too much power to the attorney general, the secretary of state, the president, and foreign governments.”
It will, however, be detrimental to oppose the bill since it was attached to the very important spending bill. Confirming this, Senator Paul tweeted “…Congress can’t vote to reject the CLOUD Act, because it just got stuck onto the Omnibus, with no prior legislative action or review.”
Several oppositions to the bill could do little about its passage since the law was sneaked in through the “backdoor”. One of such bodies, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently condemned the Act as one which “undermines privacy and Human Rights.”
The internet is also a flooded with remarks credited to respected Bitcoin supporter Andreas M. Antonopoulos who said the public must now go dark after the Act was passed. “When privacy is criminalized, only criminals have privacy. We got sold out, again.” he said.
However, tech big guns including Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all supported the bill which according to them is a notable progress that would protect customers.