22nd Oct 2016

US to extend privacy rights to EU citizens

  • The EU and US have been in talks on getting a data protection umbrella agreement since March 2011 (Photo: chiara marra)

The US plans to extend the same rights as Americans have to EU citizens whose data has been breached or misused in the US.

The news was announced at an EU meeting of home affairs ministers in Athenson Wednesday (25 June) by US attorney general Erik Holder.

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.

“EU citizens would have the same right to seek judicial redress for intentional or willful disclosures of protected information,” he told reporters at a press conference, referring to US citizens' privileges under the so-called Privacy Act.

The development is part of a larger data protection and privacy agreement (DPPA).

It covers cases where personal data is used for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal offences, including terrorism.

It means, among other things, that EU citizens not living in the US can take people to court in the US on the same legal basis as Americans.

For instance, an EU citizen whose name is incorrectly or inadvertently placed on a US blacklist would be entitled to go to court and have it removed by an American judge.

The issue has generated criticism from the EU in the past.

Under current rules, EU citizens cannot seek judicial redress in the US on such data-related matters, but Americans can do so in the EU.

“It is an issue of discrimination in the way where European citizens were treated in the United States,” said one top EU official.

Revelations of US-led mass surveillance last year piled on pressure for the Americans to restore trust with their EU counterparts.

Holder’s announcement still needs to be formulated into an official proposal and then presented to Congress.

He would not say when US lawmakers would decide on amending the Privacy Act.

“It is hard to predict a specific time, but I think we will be moving quickly to formulate the proposal and then to present it to our Congress,” he said.

The European Commission, for its part, has welcomed the proposal.

EU commissioner for justice Viviane Reding said she expects the US to move swiftly on the plan. Talks between the two sides on the issue started in 2011.

“Words only matter if put into law. We are waiting for the legislative step,” she said in a statement.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity