Friday

9th Dec 2016

EU data bill is likely target of NSA snoops

  • Albrecht supports granting NSA whistleblower Snowden asylum in the EU (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the draft data protection regulation suspects US agents may have snooped on EU officials linked to the file.

“If the actual revelation on these spying activities are true, then it is completely clear that there have been also interceptions with the activities of this regulation,” German Green MEP Jan Philip Albrecht said on Monday (1 July).

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.

German daily Der Spiegel revealed over the weekend that the US intelligence agency, the NSA, spied on EU missions in Washington and in New York. The daily says NSA agents may have also infiltrated EU security communication lines in Brussels.

The draft EU data protection regulation and its accompanying directive aim to overhaul data protection rules throughout the 28 member states.

But the bill, first introduced by the European Commission in January 2012, has been the target of intense lobbying by the US government and US-based companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

“It has been debated at the council, it has been debated in the EU institutions, also in the representation in Washington,” noted Albrecht.

MEPs are currently grappling with over 4,000 amendments in the regulation, pushing back a scheduled orientation vote in the civil liberties committee to the end of the year.

The unfolding series of US-led spy scandals first revealed by the Washington Post and The Guardian in June has prompted the MEPs to strengthen the bill with an anti-snooping clause.

The so-called article 42 aims to create a legal framework on the transfer of data between third countries, including the United States.

US companies with branches in Europe under the current regime are caught in a legal paradox. Demands for their data must be kept secret under US law but the EU says they must inform people when the US seeks out their personal data.

The article first appeared in a leaked draft by the commission in November 2011 but was later dropped because of American lobbying efforts.

Article 42 is known in EU circles as the "anti-Fisa clause" because the US carried out Prism under its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa).

The parliament’s group of lead negotiators on the file is set to debate re-inserting article 42 into the regulation before the end of summer.

But in reality, the regulation and the directive would have little impact on foreign intelligence gathering on US-based Cloud services because neither apply to national security issues.

“Perhaps its time to re-discuss once more if we really want to completely exclude national security from the scope of the regulation,” said Albrecht.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  2. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  3. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  5. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  7. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  8. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  9. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  10. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  11. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  12. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children