Thursday

22nd Aug 2019

US lawmakers shun EU model on data privacy

  • Social media and Google searches are collecting troves of private data (Photo: respres)

US lawmakers dealing with data privacy on Thursday (15 September) said their legislation needs to be improved but warned against following the EU model, which in their view has a "sporadic and inconsistent enforcement."

Looking at the 'burden' of EU data privacy laws on US companies, representatives dealing with trade and commerce in the US Congress said that America's legislation needs to be upgraded to better protect against identity theft and security breaches, but that government has a tendency to "overreach".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Republican congresswoman Mary Bono Mack said EU online privacy laws have "sporadic and inconsistent enforcement, with a seemingly disproportionate number of American companies targeted for compliance violations."

"EU directives at some point crossed paths with Murphy's law. Anything that can possibly go wrong, does," she said.

Democratic congressman G.K. Butterfield said the EU data protection law sounds fine in principle, but it is not applied in the same way across the bloc. "For businesses that have to navigate the laws of these 27 different countries, some regulations can feel pointless, some paperwork and record-keeping burdensome, and some enforcement actions unfair," he said.

On the part of the US government, Nicole Lamb-Hale from the International Trade Administration reassured representatives that the Obama administration is not looking to copy the EU model and its problems with enforcement, but that the US needs to upgrade its privacy laws to give more confidence to other countries when exchanging data.

Smartphone apps for instance are currently not covered by US privacy laws and Congress has to update that, in order to "protect consumers and promote international trade," she said.

Meanwhile, a joint EU-US consumer group has protested against the "tone" of the hearing, putting too much emphasis on the bureaucratic burden and less on the privacy problems that come with increased collection of personal data by various websites and online services.

The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue said it was "somewhat surprised by what appears to be an effort to call into question the purpose and 'burden' of the EU data protection directive" at at time in the US there are "spiralling levels of identity theft and security breaches."

The US discussion is being closely watched by the EU's consumer organisations, as the bloc itself is about to revamp its laws in the area. Legislation in this field dates back to 1995.

“It’s our strong interest as the commission refurbishes the EU regulatory framework on data protection that it doesn’t bow to mere commercial interests. A clear answer needs to be repeated that laws on data and privacy should apply to all companies operating in Europe, but not based here," said John Phelan from Beuc, the umbrella group representing consumer organisations.

Reding slams US over data privacy

Justice commissioner Viviane Reding on Monday criticised the US for lacking interest and not having yet appointed a proper negotiator on an over-arching data protection agreement with the EU. Her words came as the bloc's own data protection supervisor slammed the EU internal security strategy for being unclear about privacy.

MEPs up in arms about data privacy law

MEPs are set to ask that a controversial proposal on data retention be withdrawn following hefty criticism from both industry and civil rights groups.

Exclusive

Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

A European financial regulatory body set up after the financial crisis is at loggerheads with the European Commission over whether to carry out a transparency review of certain financial products. The reason: Brexit.

Commission defends Mercosur trade deal

EU commissioners defended a far-reaching free trade agreement between the EU and four Latin American countries, against critics who fear it will damage European farmers' livelihoods and the global environment.

EU hesitates to back France over US tariff threat

France has passed a new tax on tech companies that will affect US global giants like Facebook. Donald Trump has threatened retaliatory tariffs over it. The EU commission says it will "coordinate closely with French" on the next steps.

EU banks more vulnerable to shocks than feared

Eurozone banks, such as Deutsche Bank, might be much more vulnerable to a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis than EU "stress-tests" have said, according to a new audit.

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us