Statement by Microsoft President Brad Smith
Today is an important day for privacy rights around the world, for international relations and for building trust in the technology we all rely on every day. The inclusion of the CLOUD Act in the Omnibus funding bill negotiated by congressional leaders of both parties is a critical step forward in resolving an issue that has been the subject of litigation for over four years.
The proposed CLOUD Act creates a modern legal framework for how law enforcement agencies can access data across borders. It’s a strong statute and a good compromise that reflects recent bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, as well as support from the Department of Justice, the White House, the National Association of Attorneys General and a broad cross section of technology companies. It also responds directly to the needs of foreign governments frustrated about their inability to investigate crimes in their own countries. The CLOUD Act addresses all of this, while ensuring appropriate protections for privacy and human rights. And it gives tech companies like Microsoft the ability to stand up for the privacy rights of our customers around the world. The bill also includes a strong statement about the importance of preventing governments from using the new law to require that U.S. companies create backdoors around encryption, an important additional privacy safeguard.
Once passed, the U.S. government will need to move quickly to establish with other like-minded countries new international agreements, similar to what has already been negotiated between the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
Microsoft appreciates the bipartisan work of congressional leaders in the House and Senate, as well as leadership at the White House and elsewhere to address these important issues and to advance the CLOUD Act toward enactment.