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With the advent of Internet-based communications and cloud computing, individuals and companies around the world have increasingly entrusted their private data with third-party technology providers. This digital revolution has transformed how law enforcement agencies conduct investigations, as digital evidence has become relevant in virtually every case. National security authorities likewise depend on electronic communications data to combat terrorism and defend against foreign adversaries. As a result, companies across a wide range of industries now regularly receive legal demands to produce electronic data or to assist in electronic surveillance.

Covington guides leading global companies through the complex legal and policy issues surrounding government electronic surveillance and law enforcement access to digital information.

Government Investigations and National Security Obligations

We counsel clients regarding their legal process obligations in criminal investigations, including with respect to grand jury subpoenas, warrants, and other court orders, and in responding to legal process issued in national security investigations, such as National Security Letters (NSLs) and orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Navigating Regulatory Frameworks

We also help businesses that are seeking to use technology in new ways or are designing new products or services, so that they understand the extent to which their innovation may give rise to legal obligations to assist with electronic surveillance.

Additionally, we guide clients through the increasingly complex mosaic of legal and regulatory obligations relevant to cross-border law enforcement access to data, such as the CLOUD Act and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including with respect to conflict-of-laws and jurisdictional issues.

How We Help Clients

Our multidisciplinary practice draws on our team’s expertise in litigation, data privacy, cybersecurity, white collar investigations, and public policy and government affairs.

  • Compliance Advice: We advise companies on their obligations to respond to a wide variety of legal demands issued by countries worldwide, and counsel companies as to how data storage and processing practices may affect how regulations apply to their products and services.
  • Litigation: Covington has litigated many of the precedent-setting cases in the past several years pertaining to electronic surveillance and law enforcement access. We have repeatedly prevailed against the government in high-profile cases on behalf of technology companies seeking to protect customer information against overbroad assertions of surveillance authorities. Our litigation has also led to important new policy changes, including a new law modernizing the framework for cross-border data requests and several significant new Department of Justice policies.
  • Public Policy: We help our clients engage with lawmakers in the United States and other countries to educate them about these issues. Our policy advocacy helps companies approach the issues raised by electronic surveillance holistically, often supplementing their litigation and compliance objectives. When needed, we also assist clients in delivering effective testimony to lawmakers. At the agency level, we engage with government decision-makers regarding best practices and the application of existing authorities to new technologies.
  • Cross-Jurisdictional Legal Issues: We regularly help global companies address cross-jurisdictional issues raised by law enforcement access to digital information, including conflict-of-law situations, by drawing on our deep data privacy expertise in the U.S., Europe, and China. We have particular expertise in advising on surveillance authorities in light of the CLOUD Act, the EU GDPR, and China’s Cybersecurity Law.