UK, U.S. Take ‘Step Forward’ on Combating Sex Traffickers – The Crime Report

UK, U.S. Take ‘Step Forward’ on Combating Sex Traffickers – The Crime Report

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A new data-sharing initiative by law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and the United Kingdom is a major step forward in combating global crime.

Under the agreement, the two nations will begin sharing electronic data on investigations of terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and organized crime groups as early as October.

The agreement, announced late last month, has received little media attention so far; but it represents a major step forward in tackling the global networks that foster human trafficking and terrorism.

“Our agreement will maintain the strong oversight and protections that our citizens enjoy and does not compromise or erode the human rights and freedoms that our nations cherish and share,” the Department of Justice said in a statement announcing the accord.

“It protects our citizens by improving both nations’ ability to fight serious crime while maintaining the democratic and civil liberties standards that we stand for and promote around the world.”

In fact, negotiations have been in process since 2019, when a tentative agreement was signed, but it has taken until now for the policies, protocols, legal provisions and safeguards that operate in the commercial and enforcement world to be negotiated and understood.

The foundation for the partnership was laid in the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data, or CLOUD Act, passed by Congress in 2018 to improve the legal procedures for both foreign and U.S. investigators to access electronic data held by a company based in either country, according to a report by NextGov.

In a joint statement, both countries said that this Data Access Agreement will be the first agreement of its kind, allowing each country’s investigators to gain better access to vital data to combat serious crime in a way that is consistent with the shared values and mission of protecting citizens and safeguarding national security.

The Data Access Agreement will allow information and evidence held by service providers within each of the nations and relates to the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of serious crime to be accessed more quickly than ever before.

This will help, for example, law enforcement agencies gain more effective access to the evidence they need to bring offenders to justice, including terrorists and child abuse offenders, thereby preventing further victimization.

In practice, The Data Access Agreement will allow UK and U.S. law enforcement to directly request data held by telecommunications providers in the other party’s jurisdiction for the exclusive purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting serious crimes such as terrorism and child sexual abuse and exploitation.

It should also serve as a framework for the UK’s new On-line Safety Bill that is proceeding through Parliament.

That bill is designed to protect children and young people from online exploitation and harm and which often leads to greater organized criminality.

Shared Telecommunications

The telecommunications data will include by definition all communications traffic and data held by service providers such as phone companies and internet providers operating in the UK and the U.S.

Most experts are confident it will lead to better co-operation between organizations such as the UK National Crime Agency, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in tackling global organized crime.

It will serve as an important tool to address trafficking and smuggling of vulnerable people across international borders and into countries like U.S. and the UK—a huge business that relies upon the telecommunications networks to operate.

This is true also of international terrorism. The new agreement may well lead to more specific, targeted joint operations between both countries.

Criminal investigations conducted currently before this new agreement comes into force have been hampered by each country’s own legal provisions that have made data-sharing extremely difficult.

Gareth Bryon

Gareth Bryon

Telecommunications companies operate behind strict privacy protection laws that are being slowly dismantled as pressure is applied to make these platforms very difficult places in which to hide.

The new Data Sharing Agreement effectively puts two of the world’s best and most effective law enforcement jurisdictions on the same page in the sophisticated world of 21st-century crimefighting.

Gareth Bryon is a former Detective Chief Superintendent who worked as a senior officer in the South Wales Police and the British Transport Police, where he led major crime investigation and forensic science services for over 30 years.

UK, U.S. Take ‘Step Forward’ on Combating Sex Traffickers – The Crime Report

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