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NSA scandal

Commission delivers selective response to implications for EU-US data exchange

The European Commission is today set to present proposals setting out a possible EU response to the revelations of the NSA scandal and its implications for EU-US relations on data protection. Commenting on leaked drafts of the proposals, Green home affairs spokesperson and European Parliament draftsman/rapporteur on EU data protection legislation Jan Philipp Albrecht stated:

"The Commission is right to state that respect for EU data protection standards must be a precondition for any transatlantic data exchange. Without a significant improvement of data protection rules in the US, the current simplified data exchange provisions for US businesses under the Safe Harbour Agreement cannot be maintained. No future transfer of private data to US authorities should take place without common agreement between the EU and the US. To this end, there is a need to prioritise swift agreement of draft EU data protection rules, as well as the EU-US data protection agreement, with a view to ensuring high levels of protection for EU citizens and their private data.

"It is, however, seriously regrettable that the Commission has completely ignored the demand of the European Parliament to suspend the EU-US agreement on the transfer of SWIFT bank transaction data and, instead, delivered a glowing endorsement of the agreement. Revelations that US authorities by-passed the provisions of the agreement, including using cyber attacks to access SWIFT data, undermine the entire essence of the agreement and cannot be simply left unanswered. This slight by the Commission in ignoring Parliament's demand must make MEPs more wary in the future about waiving through far-reaching international agreements."