British and U.S. officials have been negotiating a plan that could allow British authorities to directly serve wiretap orders on U.S. communications companies in criminal and national security inquiries, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday.
According to officials, the talks aimed to allow British authorities access to a broad spectrum of information, from wire-tap communications to archived emails involving British suspects.
The negotiations were first reported Thursday by the Washington Post.
If any deal were to be negotiated by the two countries, Congress would have to give final approval.
One U.S. official said the talks were necessary, due to the pace of developing criminal enterprises and potential terror plots that are playing out on various communications platforms throughout world.
"These communications are happening with the speed of light, and law enforcement agencies need to keep pace with these communications,'' the official said.
Another official said that any agreement also would be designed to provide equal benefits for U.S. law enforcement and national security authorities in U.S. investigations.
"Such an agreement would ensure U.S. access to data stored in the United Kingdom in support of law enforcement, terrorism, and other transnational threat investigations and support our partners' ability to investigate serious crime, as well as terrorism and other transnational threats on a reciprocal basis,'' that official said.