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          Ten ICC tips for improving Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties

          • Paris, 09 October 2012

          The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has published a proposal for improving Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) that would foster cross-border communications services, protect essential individual rights, reduce conflict of law difficulties and reduce the risk of countries establishing unnecessary local communications infrastructure requirements solely for crime investigation purposes.

          ICC aims to provide constructive and balanced input to governments for potential MLAT improvements

          Entitled Using Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) To Improve Cross-Border Lawful Intercept Procedures, the ICC policy statement is part of a broader engagement between the private sector and government to identify specific and actionable policies that will help to preserve the cross-border data flows that contribute to the quality of people’s lives and the growth of national economies.

          The ICC Commission on the Digital Economy prepared the policy statement because modernized MLATs will bring clarity and transparency to the growing challenges of accessing information associated with cross-border communications services. As government investigations into serious crime and terrorism rely increasingly on lawful access to data that may be stored outside their country – due to new communications services such as mobile roaming, social media or cloud computing – it is appropriate for the MLAT model of cooperation to be updated to reflect the modern communications landscape.

          ICC aims to provide constructive and balanced input to governments for potential MLAT improvements. The policy statement’s 10 proposals cover the geographic and substantive scope of MLATs, efficient MLAT processes, and education and transparency. The paper also outlines the foundations for a model global framework for bilateral, multilateral and hybrid MLATs, building on the UN Model Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

          “Modernizing MLATs so that they reflect the communications landscape can be a “win-win-win” for the broader public interest, governments and communications service providers,” said Eric H. Loeb, Chair of the ICC Task Force on Internet and Telecommunications, and Vice-President of International External Affairs, at AT&T.

          “As an essential part of this paper, we highlight the primary need for governments to ensure that the use of lawful access to information as part of an investigation is transparent and proportional, and consistent with all other legal and policy protections for consumers and businesses, such as information security, human rights, and privacy,” Mr Loeb added.

          Previous publications on law enforcement assistance-related issues by the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy’s Task Force on Internet and Telecommunications include the ICC policy statement “Cross-border law-enforcement access to company data – current issues under data protection and privacy law” (February 2012) and “Global business recommendations and best practices for lawful intercept requirements” (June 2010). Several companies used the June 2010 paper in discussions with law enforcement agencies, leading to more proportional company obligations.

          Download the Using Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) To Improve Cross-Border Lawful Intercept Procedures policy statement.

          Download the Cross-border law-enforcement access to company data – current issues under data protection and privacy law policy statement.

          Download the Global business recommendations and best practices for lawful intercept requirements policy statement.

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