EU Politicians Realize US View Of De Facto Ownership Of The Internet Makes Their Data Protection Laws Irrelevant

from the jurisdictional-mess dept

One of the topics that we've discussed since the very beginning of Techdirt is the odd questions of jurisdiction raised by the internet. Pre-internet, most (though not all) jurisdiction questions where fairly straightforward: where was the alleged infraction/crime committed. Once you added the internet to the question, things got weird fast and no one seemed to really want to deal with it. Over the years, there have been some flareups here and there, but over the last couple of years, one thing has started to become clear: the US government feels that it has jurisdiction over much of the internet, even as it decries any other country that suggests something similar.

As we noted recently, folks, like Erik Barnett at Homeland Security, have a rather expansive view over why the US has jurisdiction over any website using a .com or .net domain name. And, of course, it goes way beyond that as well, with the recent admissions from Microsoft that EU data protection rules are effectively meaningless when faced with a US PATRIOT Act request for data. Basically, the US appears to claim that even if the data is stored in Europe, with strict data protection rules, if it's a US company, the US believes it has jurisdiction and can demand access to it.

Not surprisingly, this is upsetting EU officials, who realize that their data protection rules may be effectively meaningless if the US continues to take this rather expansive view of its own jurisdiction.

While you can understand why US officials and law enforcement want to view the world this way, what stuns me is that they appear to be both totally tone deaf to how this makes the US look abroad, as well as oblivious to the obvious unintended consequences and likely counter moves to such a view. Not only does it give moral cover to other countries doing the same thing -- potentially harming US interests significantly -- it's also going to lead to inevitable backlash and widespread harm to US companies and internet users, as users in foreign countries won't go near their services.

This is what happens when you have people who can't think more than single step ahead and put them in a position of power.

Filed Under: data protection, eu, europe, jurisdiction, ownership, patriot act, privacy

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  1. identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 12 Jul 2011 @ 5:05am

    Or, the EU is playing "good" while secretly in cahoots with US.

    I think it obvious that an overarching cabal of The Rich are controlling both, and even MOST of the world. You see it visible in UK-US military operations in several places that just happen to be oil-rich, and particularly of late in the NATO bombing of Libya. And Europe mostly stands idle while the US is exhausting its treasure to establish an empire with its military. When the US is broken from that -- particularly its civil rights -- then it can be brought down with endless debt and an "austerity" program just like Greece recently was, because "owe" massive debt to the same central banks.

    So, first flaw is the false premise of "two" sides here. It's just another show to have an appearance of conflict, no different from professional wrestling. The Rich ALL have interests against The People, though they might struggle for which group becomes Global Tyrants.

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