Monday

21st Jan 2019

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).

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

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.

EU data watchdog to investigate Prism scandal

EU data regulators will carry out their own investigation into whether privacy rules have been breached by secret US surveillance programmes, according to the bloc's privacy experts.

Merkel rival demands halt of EU-US talks

Steinbrueck, a candidate for Germany's next Chancellor, has demanded to halt EU-US trade talks amid revelations Washington is spying on European allies.

Germany led way on EU rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  2. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report
  3. Vestager under pressure to allow Siemens-Alstom deal
  4. Teargas and clashes in Athens over Macedonia name change
  5. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  6. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  7. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  8. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Salvini and Kaczynski - the new 'axis' powers?
  2. Seven member states miss climate plan deadline
  3. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  4. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  5. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  6. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  7. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  8. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us