6 Comments

Summary:

U.S. web firms may have to agree to a new set of rules for handling European citizens’ data, if draft recommendations issued on Wednesday become the real deal next year.

europecloud
photo: Retinafunk

Europe should suspend the Safe Harbor agreement with the U.S. that allows American cloud firms to handle the data of EU citizens, the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee has said in a set of draft recommendations.

The committee has for months been hearing evidence about surveillance of Europeans by the NSA and EU countries’ own governments. The inquiry is now on a holiday break, but on Wednesday Claude Moraes – the MEP leading the committee – presented draft conclusions that, if all goes well, will be up for a parliamentary vote in late February.

One of the biggest recommendations is for the Safe Harbor to be suspended. Under the current agreement, U.S. firms can self-certify to say they comply with EU-strength data protection standards, even if their country’s laws do not. However, NSA leaker Edward Snowden has shown that EU citizens’ data is far from protected when traveling through U.S. firms’ systems, and German privacy officials have already called for its suspension.

According to the draft recommendations issued on Wednesday, the European Commission should “re-negotiate new, appropriate data protection standards.” The Commission should also suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP), which involves the limited handing-over of Europeans’ banking data to the U.S., the committee said.

It remains to be seen how the Commission will respond to the Safe Harbor call, as it has already decided to use the suspension of that agreement as a threat, in case the U.S. doesn’t give Europeans more data protection rights. The Commission has already rejected calls from the European Parliament for TFTP suspension.

The committee also called for the creation of “an EU data storage cloud”, and urged the completion of new data protection legislation by the end of 2014. It also said the EU should only sign the contentious TTIP trade agreement with the U.S. if it makes no mention of data protection – however, this much has already been decided by the negotiators.

And finally, an interesting side note from Wednesday’s statement:

“Disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revealed a huge weakness in the IT security of EU institutions, stresses Mr Moraes. The draft resolution proposes that Parliament’s technical capabilities and options should be properly assessed, including the possible uses of open source software, cloud storage and more use of encryption technologies.”

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. European hypocrisy never ceases to disgust me. All this is for pushing to advance their failing local corporation and disadvantage foreign ones all in the guise of privacy protection, hopefully this will fail as it should.

    1. You have been following the whole snowden and wiki leaks thing? Privacy and state spying on its citizens is a hot button issue in many European nations given both Facism and Communism across the continent in the 20th century.

    2. David Malcolm Puranen Sean Wednesday, December 18, 2013

      Yeah, how dare they want to promote the jobs of people who live in their country over people who live in others! That’s absurd! It’s almost like they want their local economies to be strong! Almost like they want people in their countries to be able to eat!

      Also if you’re talking like that you’re probably American. With an economy that has only recovered for your top 1% I wouldn’t be throwing stones if I was you.

  2. by all means, let’s have Brussels make all out decision for us, surely they know what is best!

  3. As an American being fraked over by my country, I say Bring It Europe!!! Anything that forces Internet companies to accountable to its users no matter what country it is in – will be a company I want to do business with!

  4. It is all good and well, but more security and higher standards means it will be more expensive, and somebody must pay for it. I don’t see any of the recommendations discussed in this article actually being put into law as it will severly impact the Internet economy.

Comments have been disabled for this post