back to article EU warns United States: SHAPE UP on data protection OR ELSE

The US has until this summer to fix problems identified in the way an EU-US framework for the transfer of personal data between the regions operates, a senior EU official has said. Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, said that the EU-US "safe harbour" agreement would be suspended if the US fails to take "legislative …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Commissioner said that repairing Safe Harbour is the first step necessary if trust is to be rebuilt in "EU-US data flows" following revelations about the surveillance activities of the US' National Security Agency (NSA) in recent months."

    The phrase "pissing in the wind" springs to mind, seeing as agencies of our own Government appear to have been sharing a water main of data with the NSA.

    AC just to make them try a teensy bit harder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I thought the US was already protecting the data of all the nation states in the world?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        you mean by trying to collect al the data of all the nation states in the world, so that they can keep it safe ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They have the closest thing to a "download" of the Internet :)

  2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    The US Safe Harbour provisions have always been useless.

    They were self certified and not backed up by law, they had to be specified individually for specific purposes and datasets and had so many exclusions where the company could just do whatever the hell it wanted with the data anyway. And this is before any local or government organisation with, or without, legal direction could access or copy the data and once a copy is made by these organisations there were no protections inferred or implied.

    1. Don Jefe

      Of course the provisions are self serving and incredibly lopsided. Do you realize how many companies and industries have lobbying offices here in DC? Jesus man! If we listen to the way you tell it governments would be equally, or even more, concerned with the individuals that comprise their constituencies than with big companies.

      You can't have fallen off the turnip truck yesterday. You've got the Interneting of socioeconomic drivel down to a science, are you sick or something? Are you taking the marihuana? Instead of hopping on a tech website why don't you hop on over to a history site and spend a little time brushing up on reality. Interactive timelines are great if you're short on time. In 15mins or less you'll understand why empowering the proles and peasants is such an awful idea.

      Christ, just look at France! A couple of inbred shitsocks for monarchs start paying attention to the dirty people and BAM, hundreds of years of 'French as the language of international diplomacy' and a stupid weights and measures system that completely eliminates fractions and is based on some angry little fellows astigmatism. Shit.

      Keep yakking it up pal. You know what we do with trouble makers like you. Crucifixes can be made from railroad crossties just as well as they can from Lebanon Cedar trees and we own the railroads. Consider this your only warning. Get back to work and keep your fucking cake hole shut.

      Yours,

      Fraternal Assembly of the Powerful (FAP)

      1. Hilibnist

        "...inbred shitsocks..."

        I haven't heard that one before. +1 internets for that.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "a stupid weights and measures system"

        Only considered stupid by people with zero grasp of basic mathematics.

        But carry on, ignorance is bliss after all.

        1. Don Jefe
          Thumb Up

          Re: "a stupid weights and measures system"

          Have an upvote Pascal! It's those like yourself who have allowed centuries of satire to thrive. Can you imagine rolling marketing into something that has never required it? It would destroy the entire satire industry in these times of streamlining expenses. I regret that I have only one upvote to give. Your efforts to promote satire, one misunderestimated comment at a time, will not be forgotten!!!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "a stupid weights and measures system"

          > Only considered stupid by people with zero grasp of basic mathematics.

          > But carry on, ignorance is bliss after all.

          With that arrogance and lack of a sense of (self-)deprecative humour you must be French, right?

  3. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    It seems to me that it should be part of a legal framework that the NSA cannot access data in safe harbour without first gaining whatever approvals would be necessary in the EU, from the EU country in question.

    So, as an example, if a UK company ships data to the US under safe harbour, the NSA should need approval from the UK courts to collect that data. This should be included in any future safe harbour agreement, or safe harbour should be terminated.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      ...So, as an example, if a UK company ships data to the US under safe harbour, the NSA should need approval from the UK courts to collect that data. This should be included in any future safe harbour agreement, or safe harbour should be terminated.

      Uhn....ok, fine.

      Blanket approval will be sent by return of mail. Also draft of suitable speech for both US and EU Presidents, saying how much they value their relationship, how important proper security is, and how everything will be safe with these brand new checks on the proper operation of the Security Services...

    2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      @Dr. Mouse

      Sure, here's the NSA's motion to English courts requesting access to all data being transferred from Britain to the U.S., along with attachments from GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 declaring that this motion and all legal deliberations and opinions around it are classified under the Official Secrets Act. And here is a further brief from the Home Secretary mentioning that MI6 and GCHQ are have told him that granting this legal authority is necessary for preservation of current intelligence sources. And lastly, the MoD has sent another brief, mentioning the close defense relationship between the UK and US, and can you please approve the motion for data access in the interests of national security....

      By the time the military/intelligence/law enforcement complex finishes with the court, you'll be lucky if the NSA can be prevailed upon to use a dollop of lube in the act of mounting the EU safe harbor restrictions.

  4. cduance

    kick the tyres

    Perhaps the fact that kicking the tyres is hardly a decent test of worthiness. In IT you write code test it for various values and check the resukts perhaps the law should be written in a similar way. Write a test then try to get around it if you succeed re write the law prior to passing whatever sounds good at the time. If my MOT consisted of tyre kicking I would not be impressed.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I worried for a minute

    But then the agreement allows US companies that adhere to those principles and self-certify compliance with them to transfer personal data from the EU to US.

    I'm completely relaxed about this agreement now and am not worried about my data going anywhere it shouldn't, self-certification is the best way to ensure someone is doing what you asked...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SHAPE UP on data protection OR ELSE

    to turn the implicit into the explicit, by quoting from Team America:

    Or else we will be very, very angry with you... And we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again, the elephant in the room ..

    The PATRIOT act. Fuck "safe harbour", PATRIOT trumps it. Plus PATRIOT act applies to *companies* not locations. As Microsoft admitted 3 years ago, if Uncle Sam points at them and asks for data from their European servers, they'd cough it up.

    Now I don't know about anyone else, but where I work the legal guys have decided that this puts us at risk from any customers whose data gets slurped (if they find out about it). We'd be liable. So we have a stated policy of not letting any data go anywhere near a US owned company.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Once again, the elephant in the room ..

      You're absolutely correct. You've also highlighted the reason why no agreement will ever be satisfactory to the general public.

      The unfortunate reality, is that buried in every treaty and formal agreement between non-warring countries there are tie-ins to many other documents of murky provenance that have very different definitions and connotations than what are provided in a dictionary. It's always been that way. You can get up in front of your citizens and read the agreements word for word without lying, but you know that the meaning of 'safe' in your document is defined in a piece of legislation from 1783 dealing with abandoned mines in lowland marshes. The catch is that the word disclosure is defined in another document and means never tell where the other definitions are located.

      Obviously it's a bit more complicated, but not awfully so. Deliberately confusing and often contradictory situation specific definitions were popular when Plato was rolling his own definitions of words and even before then. It's time honored is what I'm saying.

      You know how when the legal counsel of any Head of State determines, after through review, that tossing all those villagers in a fire pit did seem a bit drastic, but the country had sworn to uphold the tribes traditions in order to end hostilities, and the rites for their traditional victory BBQ were very explicit in how they were to be done, so it's all OK? The lawyers were busy for weeks writing opinions based on precedented use of those words to tie it all together and make it 'OK'.

      The 'torture debates', aka WaterBoarding is Fun Campaign, here in the US is a great example. To little fanfare, there were actually quite a few Department of Justice top legal staff who staged an insurrection then all quit because even though they're pretty horrible people, even they can't stoop that low.

      Anyway, the published a little book that was sent out to businesses and 'important organizations' in and around DC. They broke down some 40+ different definitions of the word tortute and coercion that were used in the final Stamp of Approval legal ruling. Read with those 40 odd definitions in mind, it does indeed become perfectly clear that torture does not in fact mean torture, same for cruel, unusual and war crime or aggressive application of authority through military action. It's the same in any country that's not a dictatorship.

      So, no matter what the law 'says', it's never clear on what it 'means'. Only a fool would attempt to interpret it as the keywords have dynamic values based on the will of the user. It's also the #1 reason at home understanding of law is an absofuckingloutely useless exercise. Just watch some porn instead.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Once again, the elephant in the room ..

        ...So, no matter what the law 'says', it's never clear on what it 'means'. Only a fool would attempt to interpret it as the keywords have dynamic values based on the will of the user. ..

        Indeed.

        For a textbook example of this in the UK, note how the words "to stop an imminent threat to life" can be construed by a policemen with a firearm...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Once again, the elephant in the room ..

          "For a textbook example of this in the UK, note how the words "to stop an imminent threat to life" can be construed by a policemen with a firearm..."

          We need police, and they can take very serious steps to look after you and themselves. A small percentage are bad eggs for whatever reason, but don't forget that when things go bad the mistakes can be emotionally driven, afterall how many people have experienced the really scary stuff? Don't know how I'd react. Perhaps if more critics signed up there would be a smaller percentage of bad police, but you have to be brave and emotionally strong enough to stick your neck out to help protect others. It takes a special kind of person.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Once again, the elephant in the room ..

            "you have to be brave and emotionally strong enough to stick your neck out to help protect others. It takes a special kind of person."

            Agree entirely, however, that's not why many police officers sign up. Far - far - too many sign up simply because it gives them power over others. The desire of which virtually assures that they will abuse it the instant they have it.

            An additional item for you to consider: police exist to uphold the law, however, the law has little to do with morality or ethics. That something is legal does not make it right. That something is illegal does not make it wrong.

            That exists for one reason and one reason only: to ensure those in power remain in power. It has fuck all to do with "the common good" and hasn't for a very long time.

            If you are sworn to uphold laws that are designed in such a way that any average person attempting to be a good citizen and going about their day breaks several of htem on any given day then you are an instrument of oppression.

            Police are trained to uphold the law without interpretation, compassion or judgement. If that law no longer protects "the people" then it is not "the people" that the police serve.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Once again, the elephant in the room ..

        > buried in every treaty and formal agreement between non-warring countries there are tie-ins to many other documents of murky provenance that have very different definitions and connotations than what are provided in a dictionary

        Yup. Very well put.

        Case in point: when they tell you that "Switzerland is part of Schengen". It took me an entire afternoon to show a good lawyer how that is not the case for any practical purpose, and how the Swiss have specifically engineered the thing to make it appear like going between, say, Switzerland and France is like going between France and Germany, while in fact they can and do whatever they want, and in reality it's all perfectly legal.

        A rather enlightening experience.

  8. Tony Green

    The US can NEVER be trusted

    Anybody who thinks the US will actually respect any agreement it might claim to sign up to is a naive idiot.

    Uncle Sam considers the rest of the world to be his property, to do with as he wishes. If it suits American business interests or imperialist aims, the US will spy on, murder or invade anywhere necessary. The only sane way is to work on the basis that America can be trusted about as much as Soviet Russia could.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The US can NEVER be trusted

      You have problem with Corporate Communist Capitalism©®™, comrade?

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Joke

    Legislation through Congress before summer?

    Now there's an optimist speaking.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Viviane Reding

    "Let me put it simply: we kicked the tyres and saw that repairs are needed. For Safe Harbour to be fully roadworthy the US will have to service it. This summer, we will see how well those repairs were carried out.

    A European who speaks American... 30 years out of date American, but you can't have everything. It's nice to see the European ruling class trying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Let me put it simply: we kicked the tyres and saw that repairs are needed.

      Fuck me, that's some strong kicking there! Or weak tyres.

    2. Tony Paulazzo

      Viviane Reding

      I fucking love that woman! She's awesome, always sticking up for the proletariat.

      Eat the rich - except for Viviane Reding!

  11. Don Jefe

    Pep Rally

    For all of my life I reckon, I've hated pep rally's. Just fucking hate them. Rush out, get everybody really excited, then scurry off to the backroom and sort out the details while the mouth-breathers are spellbound by free popcorn and girls dancing around who weigh less than 300lbs.

    Chance, fortune, happenstance, whatever term you like to call fortuitous randomness, has the US being the epicenter of IT industry development and IT finance. Every country has at least a few similar occurrences over its history. The US isn't 'better' at IT, scads of events collided nearly simultaneously and here we are (don't ever, ever buy into that 'this was the plan' bullshit without a bit of history first).

    The point is, wherever IT had really taken off if things were different, the general shape of IT would be little or no different. Maybe not as aggressively marketed, but the business would be the same. It has no choice. Absolutely the only thing different about the business of IT vs other industries, is that information is the big money product, instead of a physical product or service. More information is created all the time, by somebody else (genius that bit) and what's considered important changes constantly. We've already seen the hardware side of IT mature. Like any other physical product you can only sell so many before you've got to start racing to failure with lower cost products. Not so with information.

    Since (useful) information has to come from somewhere, you can rest 100% assured that contemporary IT would be just as insanely intrusive as it is today, no matter where it was centered. In the EU or East Asia, wherever, doesn't matter. You've taken leave, completely, of your senses if you think the UK or France or Laos wouldn't do exactly as the US has done in raping your privacy. That's where the money is...

    If you want in on that money you've got to play within the rules set by the center of the industry, whatever it may be. Nobody gets to pick their own rules. Ever. That's what leads me back to pep rally's. Vivian Redding nor King Charles nor the Pope would cut the IT centered businesses in their territories off from the money that US IT brings them. It's political suicide. They didn't do it when people were dying, daily, from industrial exposure and accidents, you think they're going to do it because somebody found out your middle name is Nutsack and 60% of your income is spent on streaming movies? Fuck no.

    They'll sing and dance for you, then pass laws that make everyone cheer, but that actually do nothing. Some fines, some apologies and you're still getting your private information sold to Bobs Barely Used Underwear Emporium.

    That's in no way a 'US is all powerful' rant. That's a 'all politicians and industrial leaders are exactly the same and will all fuck you' rant. It would make me a lot happier if they just acted honestly instead of putting on big pep rally's and making the attendees pay for the event. Be an ass if you want, at least that will let me dislike you on honest terms, not the disingenuous bullshit you toss into the crowds like cheap t-shirts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pep Rally

      http://xkcd.com/588/

      (For fellow right-pondians needing to know what a pep rally is)

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Pep Rally

      POTD

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So in essence they are proposing changes to the law and expect those who currently operate outside the law to fall into line.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      welcome to EU logic

  13. sisk Silver badge

    US legislative action by summer?

    You're kidding, right? To have any sort of legislative action in place by summer Congress would have had to started moving on it in August....of 2012.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: US legislative action by summer?

      don't forget, it's an election year, so congress is going to try to spend most of its time paying lip service to issues they think their electorates find important.

  14. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    ?

    Or else we hold our breath until we turn blue and then cough all over you?

    Big threat on the "or else" bit in it?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I never expected them to admit that.

    " the NSA has denied that it accesses the information without having legal basis to do so. "

    They have no legal basis to deny that they access the information?

  16. Neoc

    Political noise-making.

    This is purely playing to the gallery. How you can EVER ensure that the USA Government (or any government) isn't syphoning data? They weren't supposed to be doing it *now*, and they *didn't* get caught because someone noticed it - they got caught because someone leaked internal memos ordering/authorising it.

    So explain to me how the EU will ensure that the US has "shapen up"?

  17. ecofeco Silver badge

    Now go away...

    ...or we shall taunt yew a second time!

  18. cortland

    Them as hasn't been caught out yet (there's others, of course)

    EVERYONE wants to spy on people, their own among others:

    SV/SE, ADIV/SGRS Belgium; DCRI DRM DPSD DGSE (France); BIS, UZSI, Vojenské zpravodajství Czech Republic; BND, MAD, BfV, LfV Germany; AISI, AISE, DIS, CISR, CII Italy; Service de Renseignement de l'Etat, Haute Commissairate de la Securite Exterieure, Service de renseignement de l'Armee Luxembourgeoise Luxembourg, and ANB, Montenegro,for good measure; Poland; FSB– Федеральная служба безопасности, FSO – Федеральная служба охраны; GRU – Главное Разведывательное Управление and SVR – Служба Внешней Разведки guess who; MI5, NCA, NBIS SIS/MI6, DI, GCHQ UK ...

    Even Christmas Island (!) has a Foreign Security Directory (FSD) and State Department of Investigation (SDI).

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_intelligence_agencies

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