April 27, 2015

WASHINGTON – Following a joint multi-association letter to congressional leaders, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the global voice for the technology sector's leading companies, renewed its call for Congress to increase funding for the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process, which is used by nations to request data for criminal investigations. As the backlog in requests go unanswered, foreign governments are attempting to circumvent the MLAT process and seek data directly from U.S. technology companies, placing companies in a difficult posture, as the law requires these requests to go through the MLAT process.

“As foreign governments grow frustrated by the backlog in processing requests, they are bypassing the MLAT process altogether and making data requests directly to U.S. companies, creating serious legal conflicts as a result,” said Yael Weinman, ITI vice president for global privacy policy and general counsel. "ITI urges Congress to prioritize and support funding to improve the MLAT process. Doing so would help to clear out the backlog of requests and deter foreign governments from circumventing the treaty process or resorting to data localization efforts."

Resource restraints for MLAT request processing through the U.S. Department of Justice have become a growing concern for the tech sector. The budgetary challenges have been compounded as the number of requests has increased by 60 percent over the past decade, leading to a substantial backlog of some 11,000 MLAT requests that are waiting to be processed. Last November ITI joined with a similar coalition of tech sector trade groups and pressed Congress to fully fund the MLAT process as lawmakers worked through a lame duck session to finish appropriations for the year.

# # #

Public Policy Tags: Forced Localization