NSA Scandal Heightens EU Data Concerns with TTIP
The recent NSA leaks have increased the debate around data protection and how the US government and companies could use TTIP to further its data collection operations. While large US corporations seek to reduce the level of data protection rules, European companies, with German companies out in front, have sought to strengthen EU data protection regulations. The differing views of the EU and the US on data protection regulations are sure to affect the outcome of TTIP.
The disclosure of the collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) has had major reverberations throughout the EU and the US. Although both sides have attempted to side step the issue of data protection to allow the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations to proceed, the issue of data protection and data privacy is bound to play an important role in the finalisation of the agreement. While EU companies may have been sceptical of US data operations prior to the leaking of NSA documents, this week's articles show how European sentiment toward data privacy has become more entrenched, which could pose problems to future TTIP negotiations.
- Jeff Chester (Center for Digital Democracy, Washington DC):
"US could exploit trade deal to expand spying", Deutsche Welle:
"Google, Facebook, and the others may claim to be hamstrung regarding NSA demands for our digital profiles - but they are also clamoring for the Obama Administration to help them expand without restraint the data they can collect from EU citizens. They now seek a bevy of favorable policies on e-commerce, trans-border data flows, and data protection as an outcome of the recently launched Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade negotiations. US tech companies want the TTIP to sanction a bypassing of the EU's data protection rules. They also want it to undo any EU policy requiring local oversight or control over data processing practices. In a letter sent to the new US Trade Representative in June by the Internet Association, a lobbying group that includes Yahoo, AOL, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and many others, they laid out their goal: the creation of "a single global digital information marketplace," with no "impediments" or "offline barriers," transporting EU information anywhere their cloud can process it."
- Tim Devaney (Washington Times):
"NSA scandal weakens U.S. in EU trade talks, matches China on data theft fears":
"German companies are more concerned about industrial espionage from U.S. competitors than they are about the prospect of National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies eavesdropping on their conversations, a study finds. German executives say the American business community poses a higher risk for industrial espionage and data theft than even Russia, and is on par with concerns about China, according to a report from the accounting giant Ernst & Young. (…) The number of Germans who fear their U.S. competitors are spying on them has more than quadrupled since the survey was last conducted two years ago — a clear sign of the impact of revelations by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who received temporary asylum from Russia. (…) One of the sticking points for U.S. trade negotiators will be persuading the EU to allow companies to move data back and forth from their overseas operations to the U.S. Europe was hesitant about such data transfers even before the NSA reports were published."
- Andreas Geiger (Alber & Geiger): "EU will ramp up data protection in wake of Snowden", The Hill:
"While some of the rhetoric about halting the entire talks was an emotional reaction, the true intent was to build up pressure and send a message to the U.S. counterparts that the EU will not be willing to negotiate, and will not give in on data protection during the ongoing trade talks. Key to the above approach is the strengthening of the European legislation on data protection, which has also the backing of the EU's largest Member State, Germany, that has one the highest level of data protection in Europe. The spy scandal has accelerated progress on reform of the EU data protection legislation. And there is renewed focus and determination to bring to an end the uncontrolled and unsupervised exploitation of data. More concretely, the regulation and its adjoining directive would create a single uniform EU-wide law to avoid differences among Member States, and close all the existing loopholes. The new rules foresee a legal framework on transfer of data to third countries, including the United States."