EU MPs Investigating US Info Snooping To See If It Violates EU Privacy Laws

from the whoops dept

Via Slashdot, we learn that a group of European MPs are apparently asking the European Commission to determine if the US government violated EU privacy rules with its attempt to get info from Twitter on various Wikileaks associates. We had already noted that Icelandic officials were upset with the US, since one of the accounts under investigation was an Icelandic Member of Parliament.

Of course, I have to say that as troubling as the US government's investigation appears to be, this particular response seems a little silly. The request for information was to a US company for info on US servers. That European users were involved really shouldn't much matter. Now, there is a somewhat silly "safe harbor" system that the Commerce Department has set up for American companies to get around the fact that the EU Privacy Directive forbids the transfer of personal info from Europeans to non-EU countries unless they have similar privacy laws (the US does not). However, I don't think the safe harbor would apply here either. This seems more like political grandstanding by some EU politicians against the US. I agree that there are problems with the investigation, but worrying about the EU privacy directive seems like a bit of a stretch.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 7:19pm

    "worrying about the EU privacy directive seems like a bit of a stretch"

    If the situation were reversed, the US would be crying foul.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Christopher (profile), Jan 13th, 2011 @ 7:44pm

    Actually, by INTERNATIONAL law, the place where the people in question live IS a consideration. Even if a company has a presence in a foreign country, another country can sidestep those laws of their home country and ask for information about someone who is in ANOTHER country without good reason.

    Doesn't seem like a stretch to me about the EU privacy directive, to be blunt.... not ALL of Twitter's servers are based in the United States, or am I wrong on that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 7:52pm

    Well the U.S. government is just asking for a smack down from the world.

    If they keep pushing those things governments will step up and downright forbid American companies from being used by their population.

    The problem?

    The request for information was to a US company for info on US servers


    If companies cannot assure that they can respect the laws inside those countries, those governments will take steps to negate them market, first and foremost because it reduces competition for them and they see that as good just ask IP apologist anywhere and second because no country in the world wants to give information about its citizens to others let alone allow that be used to do something that could potentially harm them in some way that they didn't foresee.

    American tech companies could find themselves in a very dark place if the American government doesn't get their act together, people all over the world are just etching for an excuse to exclude somebody.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 8:00pm

    I think the U.S. government is just trying to destroy the tech industry, if they are not they should stop trying to help.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Big Al, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 8:35pm

    Re:

    Since when has the US taken any notice of International Law?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Jan 13th, 2011 @ 8:40pm

    Caugh Caught

    Psst... hey hey... pssst... YO over here. I regret to inform the powers that be are desperate and seeking to exert power from the top where ever they can.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 13th, 2011 @ 8:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Since when has the US taken any notice of International Law?

    When they (the US government) or their corporations are the victims?

    I don't know...I figure they have to care about it once in a while when it suits them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 8:51pm

    Re:

    How does this justify whether the US or the EU can complain?

    It is more smoke and mirrors to distract the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 9:16pm

    They may want to be careful what they wish for, otherwise twitter may be forced to cut the entire EU off, because you never know what information might be moved around.

    Hmm!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    J.J. (profile), Jan 13th, 2011 @ 9:23pm

    What you missed here mike is that they're bringing up the debate on the SWIFT agreement again, this - valid or not - is bringing up the sharing of banking data with the US.
    Potentially this could wreck a lot of information sharing between the EU and the US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 9:58pm

    Re:

    Mollusconi wouldn't mind that, also Sarkorzy would love it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Christopher (profile), Jan 13th, 2011 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re:

    You have a point there, Big Al.... I was just pointing out how things are SUPPOSED to work in a world with the United Nations and international law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 1:12am

    Imagine the DHS response when the EU decides not to sharew info from a suspected EU terrorist over this...

    Oh wait, they're all CIA -sanctioned, 'cause it's un-Amerrican otherwise.[/sarc]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 5:10am

    Re:

    I'm not sure I understand your argument. We're talking about a US company, based in the US, with servers in the US. That people in other countries decide to use the service does not force the service to comply with the laws of THEIR country, rather it forces the USERS to comply with US law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    btr1701, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Law

    > by INTERNATIONAL law, the place where the people in question
    > live IS a consideration

    Please cite the law-- title and section-- that mandates what you claim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Law

    > If companies cannot assure that they can respect the laws inside
    > those countries

    What happens if the law in Country A conflicts with the law in Country B? Which law does the US have to respect? Which law is the US company supposed to follow?

    There are almost 200 countries in the world and many of them, like the US have multiple jurisdictions in their legal systems. The idea that I should have to become an expert on every legal regime worldwide, from Iran to China to Cote d'Ivoire, merely because I put up a website is ridiculous.

    I obey the law where I live. Period. It's all that's required of me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 3:55am

    So... Wikileaks only has to close it's US servers and the US can't demand anything?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    bikey, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    If only we had such grandstanding in the US - imagine a US politician standing up and saying, 'wait a minute, we have privacy laws (which of course we don't) to protect citizens'. What a shocker that would be. We don't even expect it. EU privacy law is real (or at least it used to be before the US shot it out of the water it with Passenger Name Record and the bank-privacy-invading SWIFT). The problem in Europe is that US lobbying (and EU lily-liveredness) in the name of 'terrorism' have destroyed much-needed laws protecting individuals from the invasive eyes of the state, and their personal data from becoming a commodity. What Europe needs, and what we all need, is more of this 'grandstanding'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This