As manufacturers look to sell their products to customers around the globe they count on the quality of their goods to make the sale. Earning the trust of the customer, however, can help close the deal. If for any reason that trust is undermined, it can shut the door to current and future business. That’s why the NAM is supporting the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act, or LEADS Act, (S. 2871), introduced by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Coons (D-DE), and Heller (R-NV).
In today’s connected environment, digital information flies around the world in a way that was not imaginable 30 years ago. Emails, quote sheets, business plans, and go-to-market strategies are all transmitted and stored on computers and servers around the world. Along with this strategic communication, very sensitive customer information and other data are shared electronically. The manufacturer-customer relationship is built on the trust that this information will be kept secure and will not be shared outside of that partnership. Unfortunately, the U.S. Government has taken action recently which threatens this trust and its action may hinder the growth of manufacturers in the U.S. in overseas markets.
The primary reason for this development is that current law governing the privacy of electronic communication has not kept pace with today’s digital environment. The Federal government has attempted to access customer information of U.S. headquartered manufacturers that is stored on servers outside the U.S. While this action is being challenged in the courts, this overstep by the U.S. Government is creating uncertainty for customers outside our borders. This is undermining the trustworthy relationship manufacturers in the U.S. have worked so hard to build around the world.
The LEADS Act will update current law by balancing the real and very important needs of law enforcement and national security while securing the privacy of the communication between manufacturers and their customers.