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EU plans new laws to limit transfer of data to the US
October 17, 2013 9:09 AM   Subscribe

The Guardian reports on new rules designed to curb the transfer of data to the US, with fines running into billions.

From the article "On the basis of the US Patriot Act, US authorities are asking US companies based in Europe to hand over the data of EU citizens. This is however – according to EU law – illegal," said Reding. "The problem is that when these companies are faced with a request whether to comply with EU or US law, they will usually opt for the American law. Because in the end this is a question of power."

What this means for European Metafilter users is not discussed.
posted by Just this guy, y'know (31 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's going to be fascinating seeing how the amoral trans-national corporations navigate this.

As an immigrant to the US my financial records and current account data from the two other countries I have lived in have been automatically fed into the gaping maw of the US government and will be in perpetuity. Even if I leave the US. It's a strange thing to know that I will be watched for the rest of my life no matter where I go and that some banks will refuse me as a client because they don't want the US to be reaching into their affairs.

Immigration is weird!
posted by srboisvert at 9:27 AM on October 17, 2013


Good idea, since money is the only thing these creatures understand. However, what this really means is that the lawyers will just get more work, and I doubt we'll see any real change.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:30 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good idea, since money is the only thing these creatures understand. However, what this really means is that the lawyers will just get more work, and I doubt we'll see any real change.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:30 PM on October 17


Eponysterical!
posted by Bovine Love at 9:36 AM on October 17, 2013


I work for a financial company that does hosting of financial databases for global customers. There are similar laws in Canada that caused some serious concern. In the end these laws didn't really come into play given the type of data we retain. But depending on how these rules end up being written it may cause us (and other financial institutions) to open Data Centres outside of the States.
posted by cirhosis at 9:39 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect this will be as useful as the stupid cookie thing, and come with a similar depth of understanding about how computers work.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Potentially stupid question: Will efforts like this actually stop the American intelligence apparatus from gathering the data they're interested in? I mean, spying on foreigners has been SOP for years now. The magnitude of the Snowden-related revelations was really that the American government was spying on Americans, was it not?

Is this just about the distinction between collecting this information covertly and having companies willingly hand it over? Or am I missing something?
posted by dry white toast at 9:53 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will it depend on where the data is stored, or where the object of the data lives? EG if a german citizen opens a facebook.com account, can that be sold to the government?
posted by rebent at 9:56 AM on October 17, 2013


Maybe they need more Pirate Party members in parliament or at least as ministers to work on these issues rather than just declare something by fiat that is an absurd overreaction that won't do anything to actually protect their citizens in the first place.
posted by symbioid at 10:08 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


1. The US government shoots itself in the foot while trying to prevent terrorism.
2. The EU makes heavy-handed and unrealistic laws.
3. Go to 1.
posted by Triplanetary at 10:08 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The EU knows it can give eurpoean companies a leg up in selling cloud based services that aren't NSA friendly.
posted by cmfletcher at 10:10 AM on October 17, 2013


This is just about EU citizens' data? Their fault for wanting to have FB accts or Twitter or Instagram, etc, I guess. I thought it was about something really important, like torrenting.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:10 AM on October 17, 2013


fines running into billions

Between that and cmfletcher's link, I'm seeing mixed motives on this one. But then I always assumed that the Snowden revelations were not exactly revelatory to the governments of the world.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:24 AM on October 17, 2013


Even if the NSA et al are willing to try to get this information covertly and in contravention of EU law (which they surely will be, at least some of the time) making it harder for them to get cooperation in their efforts will undoubtedly reduce the amount of info they can gather. Their resources are incomprehensibly vast, but vast is not the same as infinite. Mitigation is possible, if systems and policies are implemented in a smart and thoughtful way.
posted by Scientist at 10:26 AM on October 17, 2013


This won't protect users privacy. What it will do is give local government first dibs on their citizens data before they hand it over to the NSA.
posted by empath at 10:26 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The magnitude of the Snowden-related revelations was really that the American government was spying on Americans, was it not?

The value of these revelations is really that everyone knows that everyone knows tha the NSA is collecting data. The fact that it's in the news means that there is no longer any plausible deniability. It's the difference between one of your friends telling your crush that he thinks you like her, and you just straight up asking her for a date. The latter requires a response from her, the former can be politely ignored.
posted by empath at 10:30 AM on October 17, 2013


Nothing should suprise anyone, but polite denial is no longer possible.
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are similar laws in Canada

I think this goes a lot further than PIPEDA from just reading these reports. Our laws do require a fair bit of security, but it's full of hedges such as, what "[a] reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances." There's a lot of room for interpretation there, which, in my limited lay experience, is fairly typcial of our laws. The EU proposal seems to both have a lot more specificity and much higher penalties.
posted by bonehead at 10:45 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Point of clarification: do these sorts of EU regulations apply to the special member states as well? Because that's either gonna be a helluva watchdog org, or a boon for data mining companies to move all of their EU operations to.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:55 AM on October 17, 2013


Perhaps they'll come to an agreement to not hand any EU nationals' data over to the NSA, but instead run it through GCHQ (or Sweden's signals intelligence bureau, which according to the Snowden leaks, has been helping the NSA tap Europe's backbone), who can then pass it to the NSA. Officially the company doesn't know anything (and, in fact, is prohibited by national security and anti-terrorism laws from even contemplating knowing anything) about the data leaving the EU, and the Deep State is not bound by mere mortals' laws and petit-bourgeois ideas about “democracy”, “privacy” or “the dignity of the individual”.
posted by acb at 11:59 AM on October 17, 2013


Point of clarification: do these sorts of EU regulations apply to the special member states as well? Because that's either gonna be a helluva watchdog org, or a boon for data mining companies to move all of their EU operations to.

Greenland, for one, could boom. Right on the great circle route between the USA and Europe, cool climate (so no need for cooling for data centres). A bit like Iceland, perhaps lacking in too-cheap-to-meter geothermal energy but also not barred from the EU data-sharing club.
posted by acb at 12:01 PM on October 17, 2013


Do we really think EU countries aren't snooping on internet traffic themselves? Maybe not with the same level of technology outside of France/Germany/the UK, but surely they try their best.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:14 PM on October 17, 2013


acb: "Greenland, for one, could boom."
Greenland left the EU in 1985.
posted by brokkr at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2013


Greenland left the EU in 1985.

Then the next option would be British territories like Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. From tax minimisation to intelligence data laundering is not that great a leap.
posted by acb at 2:57 PM on October 17, 2013


Is this just about the distinction between collecting this information covertly and having companies willingly hand it over? Or am I missing something?

Perhaps the idea is that when companies find themselves caught between this EU rock, and the US hard place, their path of least resistance may be to ensure their systems simply don't generate and retain the kind of metadata that could lead them into that damned-if-you-do/don't position.

I'm fine with that.
posted by anonymisc at 4:45 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The magnitude of the Snowden-related revelations was really that the American government was spying on Americans, was it not?

Not to non-Americans, why would we care about that?
posted by atrazine at 3:38 AM on October 18, 2013


Snowden Says He Brought No Secret Files to Russia
posted by homunculus at 9:58 AM on October 18, 2013


I can understand the cynicism but at least they're talking about it. And to be honest I can see some relatively simple changes that would make life a lot harder for the NSA. Billions of dollars harder.
posted by fingerbang at 10:18 AM on October 18, 2013


fingerbang: by 'harder' you mean 'more expensive to US taxpayers', right?
posted by el io at 11:33 PM on October 18, 2013


France summons US envoy over NSA surveillance claims: Demand follows claims in Le Monde that US agency has been intercepting phone calls of French citizens on 'a massive scale'
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Background on the France story : New Snowden leak: The U.S. spied on French citizens
posted by jeffburdges at 1:38 PM on October 21, 2013


There is a commentary on what the WikiLeaks cables about Iceland reveal about American foreign policy that places "We don't trust the French" at number four and the related "Lazy prejudice creeps into the State Department's analysis" at number six.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:41 PM on October 21, 2013


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