So, the European Parliament has just driven a coach and horses through the advice of its own court. The ECJ very clearly ruled that Safe Harbour was illegal. Now all of a sudden the member states are simply happy to accept the word of the US in a letter of intent. It’s nothing short of preposterous.
Mass snooping, dubious privacy laws and multinationals that appear to enjoy complete impunity; the track record of these US monoliths is hardly one that instils much confidence.
The US government has been caught time after time lying about its indiscriminate surveillance of Americans. If it is prepared to treat its own citizens with this level of disregard, there seems very little hope for the EU.
Back in 2013, the NSA publically admitted it had “accidentally” intercepted emails of hundreds of millions of Americans. Well, I think we should “accidentally” tell them to bog-off. The change of position is inexplicable and we should get a proper explanation.
As for the likes of US tech giants, Google and Facebook, my confidence wanes even further. Having repeatedly breached EU privacy laws; I have absolutely no reason to believe they plan to take any notice of this so called Privacy Shield. They should also stop for a moment and consider the revenues provided by EU companies.
Let’s hope, as Austrian lawyer Max Schrems has suggested, that the ECJ will be up in arms about this ridiculous rebrand. After all, this new found laissez-faire approach from Brussels clearly flies strongly in the face of the newly passed General Data Protection Regulation. Surely, that in itself will supersede and prevent anything even vaguely akin to Safe Harbour.
According to reports, British businesses are welcoming the news. Sure, in the short term it saves some degree of hassle. But it seems people have failed to consider that the abolition of Safe Harbour might have actually presented a pretty decent business opportunity for UK PLC. Imagine a world where US companies rely entirely on local expertise and resource to operate in the UK market? You know what, they might even end up paying tax too – now that would be a revelation.
Claims that Europe would rapidly become a digitally disconnected continent without open data transfers to the US are quite frankly, nonsense. The EU is an extremely lucrative market. To Facebook alone, it was worth $1.4bn in advertising revenue in last quarter. Surely it’s far more likely that American companies would find new ways to make inroads into the EU, which would ultimately profit native businesses.
The sad fact is this new ruling may actually do more harm than good. At a time when we are trying to restore a profound lack of trust between consumers and businesses, granting willy-nilly access to US companies removes the control from the EU member states compliance to a universal code. If this Privacy Shield fails to live up to its promises, the impact on the data industry could be irrevocable.
I, for one, have serious doubts that the US has sufficient safeguards for European data. As put by MEP Jan Albrecht, this new deal is a complete sell-out of the fundamental EU right to data protection, and he was the man responsible for delivering the new GDPRs…
Mark Roy is chairman of the REaD Group
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