Policy laundering is the use by government officials of reciprocal treaties or other agreements with other countries to justify violating legal restrictions on their powers within their own jurisdictions. In essence, "The treaty made me do it."
- The American Civil Liberties Union cites a report by the UK-based advocacy group Privacy International titled Transferring Privacy: The Transfer of Passenger Records and the Abdication of Privacy Protection, describing (according to ACLU)"[how]...the Bush Administration is attempting to enlist the cooperation of Europe...to build the airline passenger profiling system CAPPS II (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System), which is built around a secret process of background checks and risk ratings for every person who flies. But the American government demands have run up against European privacy laws, which are far more comprehensive than anything in force in the United States today....
- "The report called the U.S. effort 'another clear case of what is becoming known as "policy laundering," in which government officials use the requirements of other jurisdictions as justification to obtain or enhance powers clearly wished for but otherwise unobtainable....'"
In this example, European countries with stronger privacy protection laws, in complying with US demands to screen air passengers, would be "laundering" their violation of the policies enacted in those laws through the requirements of their agreements with the US.