Sunday

26th Feb 2017

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".

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock

Athens agreed on budget cuts worth up to €3.6 billion and extracted some concessions from creditors, but the IMF warned the package might not be enough.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations