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Holder says European privacy will be protected by US law

Posted by on June 26, 2014.

If the art of politics is to make it seem as if you are giving the people what they want, then the US and the EC are Masters.

The people want Privacy. They do not have it in the current scheme of things. So the EC has publicly warned the US that unless it changes these things, Europe will revoke the safe harbour agreement that allows US companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo to store European personal data on US servers. It’s not going to happen for many reasons.

Eric Holder: US Attorney General

Eric Holder: US Attorney General

One of the most public reasons is that the US will appear to make the changes that the EC is demanding. Take the right for Europeans to pursue privacy transgressing US companies in the US courts. This is a major demand of the EC; that Europeans should have the same protections in US law as US citizens.

Eric Holder, US Attorney General, was in Greece for a meeting with EU counterparts yesterday. Afterwards he said that the Obama administration would seek to introduce legislation giving Europeans that right. But it is worth looking at what he actually said in detail:

“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 willful disclosures of protected information, and for refusal to grant access or to rectify any errors in that information, as would a U.S. citizen under the Privacy Act.”
US to seek data protection for EU citizens

It sounds exactly what the Europeans are demanding. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Holder’s announcement was “an important step in the right direction.” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said “EU-U.S. relations have been strained lately in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations but we have worked very hard to restore trust.”

But this changes nothing.

As US law stands, the NSA/FBI can demand European data and slap a non-disclosure gag-order on the demand. How can a European sue the US government or US corporation for breach of his European privacy rights when he or she will never know anything about it? So unless the US government enacts a whole host of other laws and changes to existing practices, this is just another piece of political wool being pulled over gullible eyes.

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