EU and US close to sealing a post-Snowden deal on data sharing
When Edward Snowden leaked details about US mass surveillance practices in 2013, it was revealed that American government agencies had not only been monitoring its own people, but had also been spying on European citizens and several heads of state.
Understandably, this got the European Commission pretty riled up. It subsequently demanded a renegotiation of the terms on an agreement dating from 2000 that allows companies to transfer data between the two areas, known as “Safe Harbor”.
Safe Harbor enables business activities for around 4,000 European and American companies and, due to its importance, the EC conceded to not totally scrap the agreement. Nevertheless, negotiations have taken some time – the EC wanted to ensure that its friends in the US made airtight guarantees over the collection of EU citizens’ data.
A document seen by Reuters suggests that a new commercial data-sharing deal has now almost been reached, with both sides finalising details for a deal to be concluded at the end of summer.
The new deal allegedly entails stricter rules for US companies when transferring data to third parties. Both sides are also able to monitor Safe Harbor, which means the EU will get a better idea of how the US authorities are accessing the data of its citizens.
It’s likely that the near completion of the deal has been helped by recent surveillance reforms in the US. In June the US Senate passed the USA Freedom Act, a modified version of the expired Patriot Act that imposed new limits on the bulk collection of telecommunications data.
Meanwhile, the UK is making moves towards greater data collection with the Snoopers’ Charter draft legislation, which requires internet service providers and phone companies to store records of users’ browsing activity, calls and emails for 12 months.