US, UK Reach Deal to Make It Easier to Get Electronic Data

Attorney General Barr William Barr pauses as he speaks at the Securities and Exchange Commission Criminal Coordination Conference on Thursday at the SEC in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and United Kingdom signed an agreement Thursday that officials say will speed up dozens of criminal and national security investigations and make it easier for law enforcement to obtain the electronic evidence they need.

The deal would let American and British authorities seek electronic data in investigations directly from technology companies based in the other country, instead of the time-consuming process of going through the government.

The agreement was signed by Attorney General William Barr and U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel at a ceremony Thursday evening at the British ambassador’s residence in Washington.

“This agreement will enhance the ability of the United States and the United Kingdom to fight serious crime — including terrorism, transnational organized crime, and child exploitation — by allowing more efficient and effective access to data needed for quick-moving investigations,” Barr said in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. agreed to seek the permission of the British government when seeking evidence for death penalty prosecutions, and the U.K. agreed to get U.S. approval for cases involving freedom of speech issues.

“This historic agreement will dramatically speed up investigations, allowing our law enforcement agencies to protect the public,” Patel said in a statement. “This is just one example of the enduring security partnership we have with the United States and I look forward to continuing to work with them and global partners to tackle these heinous crimes.”

The agreement is expected to take effect after a six-month review period for Congress and a related review by Parliament.

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By ERIC TUCKER Associated Press

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