Home > CSEC, Digital Policy, EU, Politics, Privacy > EU Looking to Halt US Trade Deal on Privacy Concerns

EU Looking to Halt US Trade Deal on Privacy Concerns

The EU Parliament has issued a very stern press release yesterday regarding any future trade deals with the US due to privacy concerns relating to the mass collection of meta data by the NSA.   Members of European Parliament are expected to hold a vote on March 12th, 2014 on whether or not to withhold approval of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US, and suspend the US safe harbor provisions, which could see European’s personal data be banned from flowing in the US. According to the press release:

“Parliament’s consent to the final Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal with the US “could be endangered as long as blanket mass surveillance activities and the interception of communications in EU institutions and diplomatic representations are not fully stopped and an adequate solution for data privacy rights of EU citizens, including administrative and judicial redress is not found”, MEPs say.

On safe harbor provisions:

“MEPs call for the “immediate suspension” of the Safe Harbour privacy principles (voluntary data protection standards for non-EU companies transferring EU citizens’ personal data to the US). These principles “do not provide adequate protection for EU citizens” say MEPs, who urge the US to propose new personal data transfer rules that meet EU data protection requirements.”

So essentially if the US doesn’t come up with new personal data transfer rules by March 12th, 2014, it’s going to get nasty.  Interestingly, the resolution the EU will be voting on March 12th, will also include protections for whistleblowers (something that the Conservatives and Canadian Senate in recent hearings are trying to erode).  The resolution takes direct aim at the UK for the unlawful detention of Glen Greenwalds partner David Miranda.  Greenwald is the journalist who first broke the story regarding the NSA leaks.  His partner Miranda was detained for 9 hours shortly thereafter by UK security forces:

The resolution urges the European Commission to examine whether a future EU law establishing a “European whistleblower protection programme” should also include other fields of EU competence “with particular attention to the complexity of whistleblowing in the field of intelligence”. EU member states are also asked to consider granting whistleblowers international protection from prosecution.

MEPs also cite the UK’s detention of David Miranda and seizure of material in his possession under the UK Terrorism Act and its demand that the Guardian newspaper hand over or destroy such material. They see these acts as “possible serious interference with the right of freedom of expression and media freedom”, as recognised by the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter.

If I was in the Conservative Party of Canada right now I’d be very uncomfortable with these statements.  The reason being, if this resolution passes, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which was just signed most likely will be put on hold as well shortly after.  This would take the crowning achievement of Canadian diplomats as well as Prime Minister Harper and shatter it to pieces.

It is unlikely the US will change it’s privacy laws within 28 days, and unlikely the Canadian Government will do so either in the foreseeable future.  Questions still remain on the constitutionality of collecting meta data, but now also on how much the Canadian Government is planning to sacrifice economically to continue collecting it without a warrant?  Canadians have a lot more to worry about economically and politically than the US if the EU starts to put trade agreements on hold due to privacy concerns.

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