With a growing number of US companies storing their electronic data across country lines, US law enforcement agencies are left with the difficult task of trying to access electronic evidence stored outside of their physical jurisdictions.
In response, Congress passed the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (Cloud Act) in 2018 to provide the US government with the power to order the production of electronic evidence that is stored outside of the US if it is within a US company’s “possession, custody, or control.”
However, the Cloud Act does not define what constitutes the “possession, custody, or control” of electronic evidence, raising concerns about the scope of US authority under the Act. Through their examination of existing domestic and international jurisprudence interpreting these terms in other legal contexts, Hemmings, Srinivasan, and Swire outline the key factors courts should balance in analyzing this pivotal phrase.
Since its implementation in 1981, Executive Order 12,333 has served as a general charter governing the structure and operations of the Intelligence Community. While legislation has imposed a degree of added judicial and congressional oversight, the executive branch continues to retain sole discretion over large swathes of foreign intelligence activity today.
Over the past several decades, and in accordance with E.O. 12,333’s mandate, members of the Intelligence Community have each created internal agency manuals to guide their foreign intelligence operations. These manuals identify and define a range of technical terms critical to determining the scope of agencies’ intelligence-gathering authority, including what information is gathered, how long that information is retained, and the uses to which it may be put. But over time, the dispersion of authority to make decisions within and across intelligence agencies has enabled drift in the meaning of these terms. Together, the manuals have created a thicket of often conflicting and unclear definitions that are difficult for Congress, the courts, and even committees within the executive branch to understand.
In this article, Diana Lee, Paulina Perlin, and Joe Schottenfeld provide the first sustained analysis of these definitional inconsistencies, their consequences, and efforts to address the problem from within and outside the executive branch. In particular, it focuses on three terms that determine when the intelligence cycle “officially” begins: “collection,” “acquisition,” and “targeting.” By analyzing these three terms, this Article demonstrates the lack of clarity that executive discretion and dispersal create. This lack of clarity, in turn, makes it difficult for meaningful oversight, such as congressional hearings, to occur. The Article concludes by offering recommendations to clarify the parameters of the government’s intelligence-gathering authority. As technological advancements continue to expand the Intelligence Community’s capacity to gather information, it is imperative that the government adopt measures to facilitate effective oversight over the executive’s foreign intelligence operations.
Joel Brenner presents his critique of Professor Laura Donohue’s The Future of Foreign Intelligence, and its “full-throated denunciation of the entire legal framework regulating the government’s collection of data about American citizens and permanent residents.” He discusses her findings in detail, and in the end, finds that they both agree on a number of specific proposals, and “disagree profoundly on FISA’s rationale and constitutional limitations.”
A Review of “The Future of Foreign Intelligence: Privacy and Surveillance in a Digital Age” by Laura K. Donohue
The rich legal literature that has grown up to assess the constitutionality of bulk communications collection by the government has focused overwhelmingly—and understandably—on the challenge such programs pose to particular claims of individual right against the state, yet attempting to describe what seems troubling about bulk collection in terms of individual rights alone has significant doctrinal and conceptual limits.
Jennifer Daskal describes the challenges facing law enforcement access to data across borders and examines the legal and political issues at stake in formulating clear standards for cross-border access to data. Daskal also presents possible mechanisms for establishing a framework for law enforcement access to content and non-content data in foreign jurisdictions.