Mutual Legal Assistance & Other Mechanisms for Accessing Extraterritorially Located Data

Anna-Maria Osula


This article discusses the role of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and other established mechanisms of international cooperation in the fight against cyber crime. The analysis is limited to mechanisms facilitating access to extraterritorially located data. After a brief account on the legal prerequisites of successful fight against cyber crime, the article proceeds to exploring both traditional as well as alternative cooperation mechanisms for transborder data access. Given the realistic assessment that the amount of digital evidence to be accessed extraterritorially will only increase with time, the article focuses on the difficulties in accessing data under the current MLA procedures. The article reiterates that States are in need for more time-effective measures for transborder data access. Unless the identified inefficiencies pertaining to MLA are addressed, the traditional focus on territoriality, and assuming the other State being the primary counterpart for carrying out investigative measures requiring transborder access to evidence, will continue to gradually shift to more operational mechanisms that do not necessarily require the prior authorisation of the State where the data is located.


Mutual Legal Assistance; Council of Europe; Convention of Cybercrime; Transborder Access; Cybercrime Investigations

Full Text:


Show references Hide references

Bradshaw, S., Millard, C., Walden, I., 2011. Contracts for Clouds: Comparison and Analysis of the Terms and Conditions of Cloud Computing Services. Int. J. Law Inf. Technol. 19, 187–223.

Brazil, Presidency of the Republic, Law No. 12.965, April 23rd 2014.

Council Framework Decision 2003/577/JHA of 22 July 2003 on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property or evidence (OJ L 196, 2.8.2003).

Council of Europe, 2001. Convention on Cybercrime.

Council of Europe, 1959. European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY), 2014a. The mutual legal assistance provisions of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime (No. T-CY(2013)17rev (Provisional)).

Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY), 2014b. Transborder access to data and jurisdiction: Options for further action by the T-CY (No. T-CY (2014)16 (Provisional)).

Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY), 2013a. T-CY Guidance Note #3: Transborder access to data (Article 32), Draft for discussion.

Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY), 2013b. (Draft) elements of an Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime regarding transborder access to data (No. T-CY (2013)14).

Council of the European Union, Council Act of 29 May 2000 establishing in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (OJ C 197, 12.7.2000).

Council of the European Union, Council Act of 16 October 2001 establishing, in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union, the Protocol to the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (OJ C 326, 21.11.2001).

Court of Appeal of Antwerp, 12th chamber for criminal cases, 2012/CO/1054 Yahoo! Inc, 2013.

Davis, D.J., 1998. Criminal Law and the Internet: The Investigator’s Perspective, in: Walker, C., Ashworth, A. (Eds.), Crime, Criminal Justice and the Internet. Sweet & Maxwell, London.

eBay Inc., Law Enforcement eRequest System, available at: (accessed 11.06.15).

Estonia, Code of Criminal Procedure, RT I, 30.12.2014, 9.

Europan Union, 2014. Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters (OJ L 130, 1.5.2014).

Europan Union, 2008. Council Framework Decision 2008/978/JHA of 18 December 2008 on the European evidence warrant for the purpose of obtaining objects, documents and data for use in proceedings in criminal matters (OJ L 350, 30.12.2008).

European Committee on Crime Problems, Council of Europe, 1990. Computer-Related Crime: Recommendation no. R. (89) 9 on Computer-Related Crime and Final Report of the European Committee on Crime Problems. Council of Europe, Pub. and Documentation Service; Manhattan Pub. Co., Strasbourg: Croton, N.Y.

European Union, 2009. The Stockholm Programme - An open and secure Europe serving and protecting the citizen (OJ C 115, 4.5.2010).

Facebook, Law Enforcement Online Requests, available at: (accessed 11.06.15).

Gercke, M., 2012. Understanding Cybercrime: Phenomena, Challenge and Legal Response. International Telecommunication Union.

Giles, K., 2012. Russia’s Public Stance on Cyberspace Issues, in: C. Czosseck, R. Ottis, K. Ziolkowski (Eds.), 2012 4th International Conference on Cyber Conflict. NATO CCD COE Publications.

Goldsmith, J., 2001. The Internet and the Legitimacy of Remote Cross-Border Searches, in: The University of Chicago Legal Forum.

Joint Investigation Teams (JITs), available at: (accessed 11.06.15).

Kent, G., 2014. Sharing Investigation Specific Data with Law Enforcement - An International Approach. Stanf. Public Law Work. Pap.

Medeiros, F.A., Bygrave, L.A., 2015. Brazil’s Marco Civil da Internet: Does it Live up to the Hype? Comput. Law Secur. Rev. 31, 120–130.

Miettinen, S., 2013. Criminal Law and Policy in the European Union, Routledge Research in European Union law. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon; New York.

Nadelmann, E.A., 1993. Cops Across Borders: the Internationalization of U.S. Criminal Law Enforcement. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA.

New Zealand, Law Commission, 2007. Search and Surveillance Powers. Law Commission, Wellington, N.Z.

O’Floinn, M., 2013. It Wasn’t all White Light before Prism: Law Enforcement Practices in Gathering Data Abroad, and Proposals for Further Transnational Access at the Council of Europe. Comput. Law
Secur. Rev. 29, 610–615.

Oppenheim, L., 1996. Oppenheim’s International Law, 9th ed. Longman, London; New York.

Peers, S., De Capitani, E., 2014. EU Law Analysis: The European Investigation Order: A new approach to Mutual Recognition in Criminal Matters. Blog, EU Law Analysis, (May 23, 2014), available at:

Seitz, N., 2004. Transborder Search: a New Perspective in Law Enforcement. Yale JL Tech 7, 23.

The Case of the S.S. Lotus, Fr. v. Turk., 1927 P.C.I.J. (ser. A) No. 10, at 4 (Decision No. 9), 1927.

The Schengen acquis - Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985 between the Governments of the States of the Benelux Economic Union, the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic on the gradual abolition of checks at their common borders, 1985 (OJ L 239, 22.09.2000).

Trudel, P., 1998. Jurisdiction over the Internet: A Canadian Perspective, in: Int’l L,32.

United Nations, 1970. Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, A/RES/25/2625.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2013. Comprehensive Study on Cybercrime.

United States District Court, 2014. In the Matter of a Warrant to Search a Certain E-mail Account: Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corporation.

Walden, I., 2011. Accessing Data in the Cloud: The Long Arm of the Law Enforcement Agent (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 1781067). Social Science Research Network, Rochester, NY.

Walden, I., 2007. Computer crimes and digital investigations. Oxford University Press, Oxford; New York.

Crossref Cited-by (2)

The listed references are provided by Cited-by (Crossref service) and thus do not represent the full list of sources citing the article.

1. Living in a Spamster's Paradise: Deceit and Threats in Phishing Emails
Kristjan Kikerpill, Andra Siibak
Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology  vol: 13,  issue: 1,  first page: 45,  year: 2019

2. Transborder access and territorial sovereignty
Anna-Maria Osula
Computer Law & Security Review  vol: 31,  issue: 6,  first page: 719,  year: 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology