U.S. Pushing Privacy Protection Rights to EU Citizens
June 30, 2014 2:13 PM
The U.S. Privacy Act would be extended to EU citizens via legislation sent to Congress
European citizens will now be included in some of the privacy protection rights that typically only cover Americans. According to
, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder said at a U.S.-EU meeting of home affairs and justice ministers that the U.S. Privacy Act would be extended to EU citizens via legislation sent to Congress.
This legislation was prompted by Edward Snowden's revelations last year, which shed light on the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSAs) tactics for spying on both U.S. citizens and those abroad.
This included EU citizens, and at the time, the Obama administration said that the law only protected U.S. citizens from U.S. spy agencies.
Now, the Obama administration that this change will lessen
tensions between the U.S. and EU
. The proposed law would apply to data gleaned from European citizens being transferred to the U.S. for law enforcement purposes.
"The Obama administration is committed to seeking legislation that would ensure that … EU citizens would have the same right to seek judicial redress for intentional or wilful disclosures of protected information and for refusal to grant access or to rectify any errors in that information, as would a US citizen under the Privacy Act," said Holder.
"This commitment, which has long been sought by the EU, reflects our resolve to move forward not only on the data protection and privacy agreement but on strengthening transatlantic ties."
The U.S. and EU were in talks about personal data protection prior to Snowden's revelations, but there has been a new sense of urgency since Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA.
Tensions surrounding the NSA leaks stem from revelations that the NSA taps into tech companies' data centers to search for information specifically on foreign customers in an effort to detect terrorist activity. But the NSA was gathering certain information without any specific reason, leading non-U.S. citizens to fear for their privacy.
Back in February, the European Commission said that
the EU demands less U.S. influence
and greater transparency when it comes to the organization of the Internet.
Just one month before that, Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith said that customers outside of the U.S. would likely feel more at ease with not only having their data stored in a non-U.S. facility, but also choosing the exact location of the data center after the NSA revelations.
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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