Law enforcement access to evidence stored abroad in the cloud

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The legal question arises whether a law enforcement agency may compel a service provider within its jurisdiction to hand over data that provides evidence of the commission of a crime where such data is stored on a foreign server in a country other than the country seeking the data. Many users store their personal information in the cloud for easy and convenient access anywhere and at any time. A law enforcement agency cannot directly access the electronic evidence, but requires the assistance of an intermediary such as the service provider and/or cloud service provider for access to the stored evidence. It has to be established whether there is a legal obligation on a company (cloud service provider) to gather the evidence of a cloud service user stored on a server outside the country's territorial borders on behalf of the law enforcement agency. This is also the focus point in Microsoft Corporation v United States of America (referred to as the "Microsoft-Ireland" test case). If a law enforcement agency must use Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) for international law enforcement, it should be ascertained whether the MLAT process is fast and cost effective. If the MLAT process is not efficient, a country may employ data localisation as an alternative law enforcement method which will impact on cloud computing. It is relevant to establish which interests weigh the most: the safety and national security of the requesting country or the privacy rights in protecting the personal information of the user or the sovereignty of the country where the evidence is stored? Although the focus point under discussion may not be a new concern, it has become a very relevant and contentious issue that necessitates legal clarification as the Internet is not only a global network but users increasingly store a lot of personal information in the cloud.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security, ECCWS 2016
EditorsRobert Koch, Gabi Dreo Rodosek
PublisherCurran Associates Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781910810934
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event15th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security, ECCWS 2016 - Munich, Germany
Duration: 7 Jul 20168 Jul 2016

Publication series

NameEuropean Conference on Information Warfare and Security, ECCWS
ISSN (Print)2048-8602
ISSN (Electronic)2048-8610


Conference15th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security, ECCWS 2016


  • Cloud computing
  • Data localisation laws
  • International law
  • Law enforcement
  • Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties
  • Stored electronic evidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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