European Union Acts To Shield Citizen Data from NSA and Other Spying

NSASpyingEFFAs my Reason colleague Matthew Feeney reported yesterday, the governments of France and Mexico are pissed to find out that the National Security Agency has been engaged in massive amounts of cyber-spying on their citizens and top officials. The revelations of the extent of NSA spying are fueling legislative efforts in the European Parliament to protect the privacy of their citizens. As the New York Times reports:

A panel of European Union lawmakers on Monday night backed a measure that could require American companies like Google and Yahoo to seek clearance from European officials before complying with United States warrants seeking private data.

The vote, by an influential committee at the European Parliament, is part of efforts in Europe to shield citizens from online surveillance in the wake of revelations about a far-reaching spying program by the National Security Agency of the United States. The legislation has been under consideration for two years.

The panel, meeting in Strasbourg, France, also endorsed ways of tightening other privacy rules, including fines that could run to billions of euros on the biggest technology companies if they fail to adhere to rules like limiting the sharing of personal data.

Sounds good as far as it goes, but it only goes so far. Citing intellectual property lawyer Andrew Sheridan, the Times further observes:

As for the restrictions on data sharing with American authorities, Mr. Sheridan said he expected “a pragmatic compromise” in the end.

If the proposal becomes law, existing agreements among individual European governments and the United States might keep data flowing across the Atlantic as part of efforts to fight terrorism and crime.

“There already are existing rules for data transfer between Europe and third-party countries like the United States,” said Luca Schiavoni, a telecom regulatory analyst based in London with Ovum, a technology consulting firm.

It is kind of ironically amusing that the French government protests NSA spying on behalf of its citizens when it practices widespread domestic surveillance itself.

Governments just can't bring themselves to give up on state-sponsored voyeurism.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    Okay, so could one of these governments work with our government to protect Americans?

  • Rich||

    How about if the US spies on French citizens and France spies on US citizens? Then we have disinterested total surveillance and we can still be safe from terrorism.

  • Pro Libertate||

    How about we just spy on all government officials?

  • Hyperion||

    I be a votin yeah on that one. What should we name the massive database that we will store all of their secret data in, and make it magically appear on the teevee when they least expect it?

  • Rich||

    How about 02H02F (Nothing to hide, nothing to fear)?

  • Pro Libertate||

    They talk about the NSA blackmailing politicians into compliance, so why can't citizens do the same?

  • Lord Humungus||

    Brosurance: ObamaCare Just Hit New(er) Lows

    pics from the Colorado advertising campaign for Obamacare... with its hip-hop kids and hula-hoops.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's so absurd that you'd think we'd all just spontaneously break into laughter and force the entire government to leave. The universe, I mean. Because they clearly don't belong in this one.

  • Rich||

    "Don't tap into your beer money to cover those medical bills"?

    You can't fool *me*, LH -- that's from The Onion.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

  • Rich||

    "Mama of the year"?

    You can't fool *me*, CPA -- that's from The Onion.

  • Jordan||

    HAHAHAHA holy shit. They should add this one:

    Random bro: "Obamacare just killed my health insurance plan. Now I have to buy a more expensive one!"
    Trollface Chocolate Nixon: "U MAD BRO?"

  • Hyperion||

    This is how stupid they think the general population is. And the sad thing is, they're for the most part, right. Otherwise these fuckers would be swinging from some lamp posts wearing a tar and feather suit.

  • Fist of Etiquette||


  • Hyperion||

    It's getting to be too apparent that all those furen countries are just big meanies and don't want to play nice. Let's just nuke them now, we will still have plenty of nukes left to play with even after we've incinerated the rest of the planet!

  • Rich||

    "Mr. President, we must not allow a surveillance gap!"

  • Ron Bailey||

    H: Do you mean "Drop the Big One Now?"


    ""A panel of European Union lawmakers on Monday night backed a measure that could require American companies like Google and Yahoo to seek clearance from European officials before complying with United States warrants seeking private data.""

    In short = EU pretends it can write laws which trump existing domestic US 'national security' policy.

    Good fucking luck with that one, Brussels.

    People seem to forget that the idea of "international law" is ONLY AN IDEA... one based entirely on mutual consent. It doesn't work when one party just says, "You can't do that!" without any corresponding teeth to provide some kind of incentive. This is nothing except a bunch of empty gestures to EU citizens, saying 'we did something'.


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