Washington, D.C.— Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA)—bipartisan legislation that will better protect consumer privacy and clarify U.S. law enforcement’s ability to obtain global electronic communications while respecting the data privacy laws of other countries.

Whether and when U.S. warrants extend extraterritorially is the central issue in Microsoft Corp. v. United States, a landmark case that the U.S. Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to hear earlier this summer. The Microsoft case highlights the pressing need for Congress to modernize data privacy laws.

“It is past time for Congress to address the critically important issue of international data privacy and the need to establish a sensible legal framework for law enforcement to access extraterritorial communications,” Senator Hatch said. “The potential global reach of government warrant authority has significant implications for multinational businesses and their customers. Failing to address this issue in a reasonable, comprehensive way will only continue to cause problems between American businesses and the U.S. government. ICPA will aid US law enforcement while safeguarding consumer privacy, striking a much-needed balance in today’s data-driven economy.”

"In a globalized world, we need clear rules governing access to data stored abroad," said Senator Coons. "Courts who have examined these issues continue to encourage Congress to fix this problem, and our legislation does just that.  I am proud to, once again, join Sen. Hatch to help advance this common-sense bill that will protect our data across borders and encourage fair treatment by our international partners."

ICPA Overview –

?         Requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant for the contents of electronic communications. Under ICPA, law enforcement may obtain the contents of electronic communications stored with electronic communication service providers and remote computing service providers only pursuant to a warrant.

?         Clarifies that U.S. law enforcement can obtain the electronic communications of U.S. persons and persons located inside the United States pursuant to a warrant, regardless of where those communications are located. Additionally authorizes U.S. law enforcement to obtain electronic communications relating to foreign nationals who are located outside the United States in certain circumstances.

?         Reforms the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process by providing greater accessibility, transparency, and accountability. Requires the Attorney General to create an online docketing system for MLAT requests and to publish statistics on the number of such requests.

?         Provides a sense of Congress that data providers should not be subject to data localization requirements. Such requirements are incompatible with the borderless nature of the Internet, are an impediment to online innovation, and are unnecessary to meet the needs of law enforcement.