EU Surveillance Law Makes US Data Deals Doubtful

Written by | Friday, July 25th, 2014

A decision by the EU court from the beginning of this year to discard a controversial data retention law could have repercussions for the current international data agreements and EU proposals under review. Germany’s Jan Philip Albrecht commented that there would be a debate on the question of the viability of these international agreements. At stake are a few data-sharing deals with the Americans such as the one calling for airlines to share their passengers’ details with US authorities as well as the EU-US terrorist financial tracking program. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU retention directive had breached the right to privacy and data protection because it was not easy to prove that there was a link between a particular threat to public security and the data retained.

Currently, the defunct retention directive is not the only EU policy or law that involves the mass collection of data of people that are suspected of having committed a crime. A study commissioned by the European Green Party claims that the judgement of the court means that the EU Commission will have to review or renegotiate a number of deals. The main finding concludes that the transfer of an undifferentiated bulk data collection and transfer of flight passenger and bank data to the US are not compatible with the judgement. Franziska Boehm, one of the co-authors of the study, comments that ”it doesn’t happen very often that a directive is declared void in its entirety and this shows the importance of the case and maybe the initial misjudgement of the EU legislator, in particular the Commission, which defended the directive in recent years”.

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