Anti-Crime Provision Pushed by AG Alan Wilson and State AGs Included in Federal Budget Signed by President

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – March 27, 2018 – The final federal spending plan that President Trump signed into law last Friday includes a provision that will make it easier to convict criminals who try to hide evidence on overseas computer servers.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson was one of 36 state attorneys general who sent Congress a letter urging it to pass the CLOUD Act. CLOUD stands for Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data.

Under the Stored Communications Act, or SCA, a law enforcement agency can get a search warrant for someone’s email or other online accounts if a judge finds probable cause the account has evidence of a crime. When that warrant is served, an internet service provider has to give that evidence to law enforcement. But some service providers argued that they can’t be forced to turn over evidence being stored on computer servers that are overseas, even if the provider and the customer who created that data are in the United States and the data can be accessed from the United States.

The CLOUD Act confirms that law enforcement can get that information that’s on overseas servers. Congress included the CLOUD Act in the omnibus spending plan it passed last week, and, since President Trump signed that act, it’s now law.

“It’s just common sense that if a criminal is in the United States and so is the computer service provider he uses, he shouldn’t be able to hide evidence of serious crimes just by storing that evidence on a foreign computer server,” Attorney General Wilson said. “This law is about holding criminals accountable. The CLOUD Act is a tool law enforcement needs to be able to keep up with worldwide technology.”

State and local law enforcement agencies have used Stored Communications Act warrants to investigate all kinds of crimes, from drug trafficking to murder to child sexual exploitation.

In addition to South Carolina, the attorneys general who supported passage of the CLOUD Act are from the states of Vermont, Utah, Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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