Opinion

Sensationalist Headlines Might Drive Page Views, but Not Good Privacy Law or Policy

By Tanya Forsheit, CIPP/US

Skimming through my daily privacy law newsfeeds last week, I came across the following headline on multiple occasions:  Google says e-mail users have “no reasonable expectation of privacy.” In quotes. Meaning Google actually said that. “Really?” I thought. That can’t be right. I bet Google did not actually say that. 

Guess what? Google did not actually say that. 

I’ll preface the rest of this piece by making clear that I am not in the business of defending or apologizing for Google. Those who know me well know that’s not the case. Not in the least. But what happened last week reaches far beyond Google and demonstrates the folly of letting the media drive the privacy debate in this country—and, consequently, the development of privacy law and policy.

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Opinion

European Cloud Providers Cloud the Truth After PRISM—What Should U.S. Providers, and the U.S. Government, Do About It?

European cloud providers have tried for years to gain a competitive advantage in the European market over U.S.-based counterparts by claiming that content stored with European providers is more protected from government access than data stored with U.S. companies. These European providers have tried to instill fear in potential customers, claiming that the USA PATRIOT Act gives the U.S. government essentially unfettered access to content stored with U.S. companies.

As has been well-documented here and elsewhere, the truth is that the U.S. imposes tighter restrictions on the ability of its law enforcement and security agencies to get data stored in the U.S. than many EU governments face in accessing data stored in their home countries. Moreover, unlike in the U.S., providers in the EU can voluntarily provide content and customer data to the government, and EU providers are required to retain data for up to two years, helping ensure the data is there when the government comes looking for it.

More from Jason Weinstein