Government Access to Data


Governments are increasingly attempting to access users’ communications data, such as messages we exchange, IP addresses, and information needed to identify our online activities held by companies within and across borders. Constitutional norms, communication privacy laws, data protection safeguards, and international human rights laws and standards provide a framework outlining when and under what conditions government authorities can lawfully access such data. This section provides two sets of resources regarding law enforcement access to data: country reports on national communications privacy laws and resources about the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention, adopted by the Council of Europe to streamline cross-border law enforcement access to data. In Country Reports, you’ll find studies about the state of communications privacy law in Latin American countries, Spain, the United States, and Southern Africa, as well as analysis of selected national frameworks vis à vis international human rights standards. For more information about international standards, please go to our resources on the 13 Principles. In Council of Europe, we provide handy materials about the Second Additional Protocol and its troubling trends on cross-border access to data.

Country Reports

These reports offer condensed information on how governments in the following countries may lawfully access data: in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Spain, the United States, and Southern Africa.

Council of Europe

This section provides background, critical analysis, and recommendations to assist civil society and other stakeholders engaged in national debates about accession to the Second Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention. The documents focus on Latin American countries and context, but can also be a useful resource for stakeholders in other regions.


Learn more about all those who contributed to compiling the reports on this page.


Further analysis and information on government lawful access to data and international human rights standards.


Local and regional groups are continuously spotting and assessing key issues on communications privacy laws and related communication privacy practices. Here is a selection of their reports.