Special Envoy on Intelligence and Data Sharing

The government appointed Sir Nigel Sheinwald as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Intelligence and Law Enforcement Data Sharing in September 2014. His role was created to work with foreign governments and US communication service providers (CSPs) to improve access to data across different jurisdictions for intelligence and law enforcement purposes.

2015 Summary of Progress

In June 2015, a summary of the Special Envoy’s work was published, in which Sir Nigel outlines his activities since being appointed. [1] Under the heading ‘Short Term Cooperation’, he describes his work with Content Service Providers and the US Government to develop new solutions to ongoing legal concerns around data sharing, as well as dealing with urgent issues around counter-terrorism and threat to life cases.

In the summary Sir Nigel also recommends a number of proposals, including improving government-Government cooperation, and reforming the US/UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to standardise and simplify the process of information-sharing, in particular to “make it easier for UK police to access communications data directly from the US CSPs.” Sir Nigel also suggests the building of a new international framework between certain democratic countries to serve as a long-term, sustainable solution to data sharing. Finally, he recommends that “the Government looks at how it can improve transparency around the number and nature of our requests to overseas and domestic Communication Service Providers”, through better coordination with these companies.

[1] Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Summary of the Work of the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Intelligence and Law Enforcement Data Sharing, accessible at  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/438326/Special_Envoy_work_summary_final_for_CO_website.pdf