European Commission should revoke US Safe Harbour status immediately.

Given the news over the past 24 hours of the activities of the US National Security Agency, it is critical that the EU Commission immediately revoke the Safe Harbour status of the United States of America under the Data Protection Directive.

It all started with news that the National Security Agency (NSA) are being provided "meta data" of all calls sent and received on the Verizon telecommunications network via a secret order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court under "Business Data" provisions of the PATRIOT Act - domestic and foreign.

Then seemingly in a flood of whistleblowing, further activities of the NSA have been leaked to the press - the most significant of which is regarding another NSA intelligence initiative known as PRISM. In a breaking story by the Washington Post it has been disclosed that the PRISM initiative gives the NSA access to the core infrastructure and data of some of the world's largest technology and social networking corporations, explicitly referencing Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.

In light of these allegations I have written to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, calling for the immediate revocation of US Safe Harbour status under the European Data Protection Directive, a copy of the letter is attached to this post. I urge all advocates, lawyers, politicians and citizens to call for the same because until Europe stands up against such activities, the fundamental rights of EU citizens are meaningless. We should also ask if the increased lobbying by US corporations against the Draft European Data Protection Regulation is in part a result of US Government intelligence and surveillance initiatives and if so, all votes on the current draft should be suspended until such time as the situation can be investigated.

UPDATE

Further developments reported by The Guardian allege that the UK Government's Intelligence Agency (GCHQ) have been using PRISM via the United States Department of Justice, for a number of years - thereby removing the need to obtain judicial orders to access the same communications directly from the service providers as required under UK law and European Directives/Regulations. As such I have sent a second letter (attached below) to President Barroso calling for an investigation of the UK and other Member States to determine whether or not such activities are in breach of Member States' obligations under EU Directives and if so to commence with infringement proceedings against those offending Member States.

It seems to be a complete mockery of the very oversight systems developed to prevent exactly this type of activity and Member States should not be permitted to circumvent their obligations at the expense of the fundamental and constitutional rights of their Citizens. To those reading this, if you are a European citizen, please take the time to visit the web site of President Barroso and file your own complaint. You can do so by clicking on this link.

UPDATE 2

Given further evidence today that Google have handed over data on European citizens (hosted in the EU not the US) to a US Government intelligence agency under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order, as admitted by Google in an interview with German media group WirtschaftsWoche - I have written a third letter to President Barroso, providing this evidence and further arguments for the revocation of the United States Safe Harbour status. You can find the letter attached at the bottom of this post.

Again, I urge all EU citizens to write to the Members of the European Parliament, European Commission and Data Protection Authorities, demanding that US Safe Harbour Status be revoked in order to protect the fundamental and constitutional rights of all European citizens.

UPDATE 3

Given further revelations published in the Guardian today, I have sent a letter to Vice President Viviane Reding (whom is now responsible for dealing with my previous letters to President Barroso) re-iterating the need for an immediate investigation into the GCHQ's surveillance activities. You can find the letter attached to the bottom of this article.

Comments

Absolutely right. Circumvention of our rights is not morally defensible, even if 'technically legal'!

Could you explain shortly, for not a lawyer, what would happen after revoking US Safe Harbor status? What would it mean for companies like Google having most of their data centers in US and storing there private data of EU citizens? And what would that mean for European companies just storing data in US?

Spread the word, the actions of the US and NSA collaboration with the largest IT companies in the world is just sickening.

Has anything happened since you sent your letters?

Yes, the EU Commission have started a review of the safe harbour agreement with the US due to finish by the end of the year.

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