US promises to pass legislation granting privacy rights to European citizens

In a turnaround from comments made earlier in 2013, US Attorney General Eric Holder has promised leaders of the European Union that the Obama administration would push forward legislation extending the US Privacy Act of 1974 to European citizens.

The Privacy Act of 1974 was intended to protect the data and personal information of Americans from unlawful inter-agency dissemination by federal agencies. The main text of the act states:

No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains.

Additionally, the act grants the right for American citizens to lawfully request records or documents any federal agency keeps on them. And although the legislature previously pertained solely to American citizens, an extension passed by the Obama administration would ensure, at the very least, that citizens of the European Union are safe from their data being transferred to the US for "law enforcement purposes."

The promise came after a meeting on Wednesday between US and EU officials in Athens. According to Holder, the push for legislation reflects "[our] resolve to move forward not only on the data protection and privacy agreement but on strengthening transatlantic ties." 

This commitment comes in the wake of a report by Privacy International which claimed that the British government was intercepting data of its citizens even if the communications took place outside the UK. And although the US is moving in the right direction in terms of privacy rights, especially with the recent passage of legislation removing funding from the NSA's controversial backdoor search programs, the larger issue of surveillance and privacy rights is still at hand -- especially given how close US and UK intelligence agencies have remained in the past decade.

Source: The Guardian | Image via Shutterstock - Data privacy concept

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25 Comments

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TechJunkie81 said,
And you think YOUR BUSH wasn't doing it Try again CONservative fraud.

Fella, I'm not a yank, so the only thing bushy around me is my wife's hairdo! :p

Why should anyone believe the US government now? Pass a law and then forget the law is there? It's Just a gesture to try and fool some people but I don't think the people of Europe will buy it.

But these are not "rights" but privileges. It always is that when politicians "promise" to provide. T

Taking from someone to give to someone else. It is an entitlement and not about establishing any consistent legal norm for human conduct.

Hello,

Since bulk metadata collection is "not" spying, this likely will have little to no effect in changing how EU citizens are monitored by US and allied intelligence agencies.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

Well, this so called Privacy Act hasn't exactly stopped the mass wire tapping against US citizens, has it? Why would anyone trust they're abiding by it now, when they haven't been for years?

FloatingFatMan said,
Well, this so called Privacy Act hasn't exactly stopped the mass wire tapping against US citizens, has it? Why would anyone trust they're abiding by it now, when they haven't been for years?

Welcome to the pantomime of world politics

Every country spies in one way or another. The US is simply not very good at keeping it a secret.

Unfortunately, the US is in a lose-lose situation. If we don't spy and we get hit with another 9/11, people will be ###### that enough wasn't done to prevent it. And when we do spy.... well, we see how that goes over with the rest of the world.

So, I guess for me, I'd rather error on the side of safety. Besides, I've never much cared about what other people think of the country I live in.

The US is the most s**t-on country in the world. And yet we aren't going anywhere and we actually thrive. I just love how that irks so many people. :)

COKid said,
Every country spies in one way or another. The US is simply not very good at keeping it a secret.

Unfortunately, the US is in a lose-lose situation. If we don't spy and we get hit with another 9/11, people will be ###### that enough wasn't done to prevent it. And when we do spy.... well, we see how that goes over with the rest of the world.

So, I guess for me, I'd rather error on the side of safety. Besides, I've never much cared about what other people think of the country I live in.

The US is the most s**t-on country in the world. And yet we aren't going anywhere and we actually thrive. I just love how that irks so many people. :)


lol you seriously believe 9/11 was a terrorist attack?

-Razorfold said,
Uh huh sure. Translated into English it says "We will try a lot harder to not get caught next time"

Yeah the same rules we broke to spy on our own citizens and continue to break, will now be extended to you so we can break them some more. You're welcome.

-Razorfold said,
Uh huh sure. Translated into English it says "We will try a lot harder to not get caught next time"

Yeah...just like our secret "FISA" court. Now that it has been outed as the unpatriotic institution that it is, congress is acting fast to make sure everything it does is in the public eye. Result: new secret court established that congress and the people do not know about... executive and judicial branch try harder to keep this one a secret.

_Alexander said,
If you want privacy immigrate to Europe.

Yeah that'll do it.I mean its not like our security services do anything like what the NSA were caught doing (caught is the keyword here).

First of all, when it comes to privacy Europe is far more advanced, it is true.

For instance, in the US, as a crazy man, go out and claim your neighbor raped your 3 year old son. Your neighbor will be on the cover of all news papers with full mug shot and his name as alleged pedophile . It may take a couple of days for the police to realize you being crazy but by that time the damage is done. In Europe such a thing would not happen, even after the conviction.

Secondly, being in Europe doesn't always protect you from the US since your data may still be stored in the US territory.

AtriusNY said,
First of all, when it comes to privacy Europe is far more advanced, it is true.

For instance, in the US, as a crazy man, go out and claim your neighbor raped your 3 year old son. Your neighbor will be on the cover of all news papers with full mug shot and his name as alleged pedophile . It may take a couple of days for the police to realize you being crazy but by that time the damage is done. In Europe such a thing would not happen, even after the conviction.

Secondly, being in Europe doesn't always protect you from the US since your data may still be stored in the US territory.

You tell that to the many cases of false accusations against high profile targets in the UK over the last few years who's careers have been ruined by some crazy money grabber.

Anyway I'm on about the security services which in the UK are equally as bad if not worse than the NSA and the fact we have the densest cctv system of any country in the world.

We have no privacy stop fooling yourself