Privacy Advisor

EU-U.S. Tensions on the Rise; Some Gov’t-Google Sharing Details Revealed

June 13, 2013

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

EU-U.S. Tensions on the Rise

Financial Times front page from 13 June 2013.

For its lead story today, Financial Times (FT) reports on Obama administration lobbying efforts in Brussels to remove measures in the EU’s proposed data protection regulation “that would have limited the ability of U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on EU citizens.” Three “senior EU officials” told FT that the unofficially named “anti-FISA clause” would have prevented U.S. requests for technology and telecommunications companies to turn over data on EU citizens. According to the report, the clause was abandoned by European Commission officials in 2012, even though EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding backed the safeguard.  (For readers having troubling accessing the FT story, GigaOm covered the revelations as well.)

According to Deutsche Welle, the European Parliament commissioned a report in 2012 that revealed the U.S. had, in theory, access to EU citizens’ data going back to 2008. The report concluded that the EU was failing in protecting its citizens from U.S. spy agencies.

After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, DC, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the intelligence sharing between the two nations is based on a “framework of law,” BBC News reports.

Google Discloses A Bit of Its Government Data-Sharing Process

David Drummond, chief legal officer of Google, confirmed some additional details on how the company has shared user data in response to national security requests. The New York Times reports the company uses file-transferring technology to deliver requested information. Both parties can access the shared folder, but Drummond said, “We deliver it to them, we push it out to them…They don’t come access it through any machines at Google.”  Here is video of Drummond speaking about it on British television:

CNET News compares U.S. technology and telecommunications company responses to allowing NSA access to servers. The Internet companies initially denied it, while the telecommuncations companies “did the opposite.” In the case of AT&T, the company never denied the NSA had access to user data, but rather, in defending a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, downplayed the agency access.

The Economist has published a column entitled, “Should the government know less than Google?” The key question, according to the column, asks “is it okay for Google to use knowledge it gains from searching your e-mails to sell advertising to Williams Sonoma but not to pass it on to the government when it asks for matches between pressure cookers and beheading videos?”

And The Guardian has released a comprehensive, interactive "guide to your metadata."

Read more by Jedidiah Bracy:
AUSTRALIA—NSA Leaks Reach Australian Shores
Tech Firms, Lawmakers Respond to NSA Leak
NSA Leak Continues To Send Shockwaves Through Privacy World
Reactions to NSA Disclosures Continue