The new UK-US Data Access Agreement which completed its ratification in Parliament earlier this year, completes its scrutiny process in the US Congress this month and comes into use later this year. It will allow certain UK public authorities, including law enforcement, to request electronic data directly from US telecommunications operators through a court-approved order or a warrant, speeding up investigations and the prosecution of serious criminals.
Independent oversight will be provided by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC), Sir Brian Leveson. The IPC’s role includes ensuring compliance of UK agencies with the Agreement under review, providing independent oversight to help ensure that it is being used in accordance with its terms. (Both the UK and the US are required to ensure that the agencies which use the agreement maintain high standards of data protection and privacy safeguards).
The IPC already provides independent oversight and authorisation of the use of investigatory powers by intelligence agencies, police forces and other public authorities.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “My priority is to give law enforcement the powers they need to go after criminals and better protect victims. This landmark Agreement will dramatically speed up the investigation and prosecution of the most serious offenders.”