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European Parliament moves to cancel the US and EU Safe Harbour agreement

Might as well
Tue Oct 08 2013, 15:58
European Parliament

A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER has suggested suspending the Safe Harbour agreement between the US and the UK.

The Safe Harbour agreement is supposed to ensure the privacy of all personal data transmitted between Europe and the US. Claude Moraes is Labour MEP for London and spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament for Home Affairs and Justice. It does not appear that he has much faith in the arrangement.

Moraes said that Safe Harbour does not offer the protection that it is supposed to provide and recommended that the European Parliament suspend it. He said that organisations are making false claims on the arrangement that harms its work.

"Many claims of #SafeHarbour by organisations are false and increasing," he said on Twitter. "208 false claims in 2008, 310 in 2010 and 427 in 2012".

The complaint follows a [Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs] Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens at the parliament yesterday.

There a number of people gathered together to discuss US surveillance systems and eavesdropping. Attendees included Moraes, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the president of the French Data Protection Agency CNIL, and EU Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding.

On the same day Reding put an estimate on the value of European data and spoke up about a European data protection system.

"The estimated value of EU citizens' data was €315bn in 2011. It has the potential to grow to nearly €1tn annually in 2020," she said as she spoke about opening up the market.

This would simplify the process that locals have to do if they want to raise a complaint against a data controller in another country. Reding suggested that a one stop shop is needed, adding "data protection authorities [would be] strengthened by working together to deliver better and more consistent protection throughout the Union."

Moraes told The INQUIRER that Safe Harbour, which is almost a decade old, is broken and that experts have described it as being "misleading", "vulnerable" and "ineffective".

"The leaks from Edward Snowden have thrown into the spotlight the inadequacies of the Safe Harbour framework in terms of protecting EU citizens from mass surveillance of the NSA and in particular the vulnerabilities behind EU citizens data sovereignty when it comes to cloud computing," he said.

"However beyond this it is also clear that the Safe Harbour agreement in fact never has guaranteed sufficient protection given both the lack of compliance by organizations and the lack of enforcement by the FTC."

Moraes said that the Safe Harbour list includes only 3,000 organisations and is lacking in participants from people and money movers like airlines and banks, as well as other popular consumer services.

"It is clear that the existing Safe Harbour agreement does not offer EU citizens any protection against either Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or Patriot Act in the US," he added.

"It can no longer be considered to be a viable mechanism for cross-border [data] flows from the EU to the US." µ


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