A delegation from the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament will return shortly from the US after high-level talks with the departments of trade, justice and homeland security, as well as industry representatives and consumer rights advocacy groups. Topics of discussion included future co-operation on data protection, the recent revelations around the US National Security Agency's (NSA) Prism programme, as well as the recently opened negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group, stated:
"Our counterparts in theUS– members of Congress as well as the general public – are very concerned. Together, we can make data privacy and protection a priority. The uncontrolled and unsupervised exploitation of data – on European citizens in theUSas well as in the EU – has to be stopped. Strengthening European legislation on data protection is crucial.
"In this legislation, Europemust set standards that other nations and their authorities will have to fully respect. The next step must be a comprehensive agreement with theUSon mutual recognition of data privacy legislation.
"For the moment, neither individual users nor corporations can request information about the use of their data. Nor can national authorities in the EU directly demand data for use in criminal prosecutions – this is a particular problem due to the large number of globally active social media and online companies operating under US jurisdiction. Therefore we need a framework agreement between theUSand EU which includes legal procedures for data requests and maximum transparency for the public and organisations. Moreover, greater transparency must be achieved on third-party commercial use of data."
Regarding the impact on EU national governments, Hannes Swoboda added:
"The discussions with theUSshould be an opportunity for EU national governments to clarify their own methods concerning the use of data for criminal prosecutions and intelligence.
"The EU legislation, and a framework agreement with theUS, must be finalised before the European Parliament can decide on the TTIP."