Back to overview

U.S. clouds a no-go? Part 2

   30.06.2021   cloud, data protection, data, law
US-Clouds ein NoGo? Microchip, Binary Code & US Flag | © aspectra AG

The world's largest technology companies turned into surveillance brokers for U.S. authorities.

 the CLOUD Act gives law enforcement the upper hand.U.S. tech companies receive thousands of subpoenas from law enforcement agencies for their customers' data every week. They are under a legal obligation to comply with these requests, and can at best contest only a tiny fraction of them. 

Moreover, they are under a gag order and thus are generally not allowed to inform the affected customers about the request. Accordingly, the New York Times writes that the world's largest technology companies have become by law watchdogs and key surveillance brokers of U.S. government agencies. Meanwhile, these corporations have come to realise that the CLOUD Act threatens their business in Europe and are publicly criticising the authorities' actions.
Providers like Microsoft pledge that they will stand up for their customers' rights. In the end, however, the CLOUD Act gives law enforcement the upper hand. As recent examples show, surveillance laws are also being used for political purposes: under the Trump administration, information on prominent Democrats has been requested in multiple instances, as well as intelligence on New York Times journalists. Given this baseline situation, it should come as no surprise that European data protection advocates are increasingly critical of the use of US cloud services.