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U.S., EU Start Formal Talks on Cross-Border E-Evidence Pact

Sept. 26, 2019, 8:29 PM

A U.S.-EU deal to help law enforcement exchange data across borders is inching closer, as officials began formal talks on an e-evidence agreement.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, and the Trump administration are in discussions to ease restrictions and enable access to electronic evidence in criminal probes. U.S. Attorney General William Barr and outgoing EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova aim to finish “an agreement as quickly as possible,” the commission said in a Sept. 26 statement.

The discussions come as the U.S. is pushing to make its first deal under the CLOUD Act, which sets standards for international criminal data-sharing pacts. The EU also is looking to harmonize rules for accessing data within the bloc and globally.

A deal would help the U.S. and EU member states fight global terrorism and other national security threats. Law enforcement officials on both sides of the Atlantic would have an easier, but still formal, method to access criminal data in investigations while protecting the privacy of those involved.

An agreement would “enhance public safety and national security by providing an improved and more rapid ability to identify and respond to criminal threats on both sides of the Atlantic, in a manner that assures respect for the rule of law, privacy, and civil liberties,” Barr said in a Sept. 26 statement.

European officials also want to preserve data protection standards for information transferred under any agreement. An EU-U.S. criminal data pact would “strengthen our security, while protecting the data privacy and procedural safeguards of our citizens,” Jourova said in the commission’s statement.

The EU and U.S. plan to keep negotiating over the next few months. The EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial will review progress on the talks in December.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dstoller@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloomberglaw.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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