EXCLUSIVE-U.S., UK to sign deal to get data faster from tech firms in security cases

Joseph Menn and Christopher Bing

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WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - The United States and United Kingdom plan to sign a special data agreement on Thursday that would fast track requests from law enforcement to technology companies for information about the communications of terrorists and child abusers, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

The agreement will be announced publicly alongside an open letter to Facebook Inc and its Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, calling on the company to suspend plans related to developing end-to-end encryption technology across its messaging services.

Child predators have used messaging applications, including Facebooks Messenger and WhatsApp software, to exchange explicit images and videos. Law enforcement officials say the companys plans regarding encryption would inhibit their ability to investigate these crimes.

In practice, the bilateral agreement would empower the UK government to directly request data from U.S. tech companies, which remotely store data relevant to their own ongoing criminal investigations, rather than asking for it via U.S. law enforcement officials.

A representative for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment. (Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco and Christopher Bing in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)