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The Microsoft office in Moscow. Photo Mikhail Tereshchenko\TASS via Getty Images

The funding bill released Wednesday includes the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data [CLOUD] Act, which provides a legal framework for law enforcement to request data from overseas servers. The CLOUD Act currently sits high atop the wish list of tech firms, law enforcement and even foreign nations.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court is currently mulling a case determining whether the Department of Justice had the right to force Microsoft to produce client emails stored on a server in Ireland without permission from Ireland's government.

  • Microsoft fears the DOJ will force it to violate the laws of Ireland.
  • The DOJ hopes to avoid the often years long process of abiding by treaties dealing with evidence.
  • But both have publicly urged lawmakers to render the pending decision moot by passing the CLOUD act, a way to streamline the treaty process for requesting digital data.

The details: The CLOUD Act provides a framework for reciprocal treaties for nations to request data from computers located within each other's borders. It also provides a mechanism for a Microsoft to take a law enforcement demand to court if it would force them to violate another country's rules. But when neither apply, law enforcement will be able to demand files in accordance with U.S. law.

What they're saying:

  • " The inclusion of the CLOUD Act in Omnibus funding bill negotiated by Congressional leaders of both parties is a critical step forward in resolving issue that has been the subject of litigation for over four years," wrote Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith in a tweeted statement.
  • "The CLOUD Act will create a clear, balanced framework for law enforcement to access data stored in other countries while at the same time encouraging our allies to strengthen their domestic privacy laws," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement, who spearheaded the CLOUD act and earlier proposed legislation on this issue.

Go deeper

Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.