The pressure is mounting for blanket data gathering organisations the world over, as members of European parliament (MEP) yesterday voted with overwhelming support to block the transfer of personal data to US corporations and agencies and tightened the law on digital privacy too.
Under new draft laws, US companies operating within the EU would be required to store customer data within Europe, unless they were given specific permission to store it in the US under certain circumstances. This could lead to an interesting turn of events, as US companies are required by their country's laws, to hand over data to the NSA and other organisations if requested.
While the debate on the introduction of such laws has been ongoing for more than two years thanks to US politicians lobbying for less restrictions, the Edward Snowden revelations on US data collection and surveillance, have led to MEPs expediting updates to the digital legislature. Along with reducing US involvement in data gathering in the EU, it also lays groundwork for other negotiations to take place on the topic.
“The vote is a breakthrough for data protection rules in Europe, ensuring that they are up to the challenges of the digital age. This legislation introduces overarching EU rules on data protection, replacing the current patchwork of national laws,” German Green MEP, Jan-Philipp Albrecht said (via the Guardian).
The US hasn't been the only country accused of deliberately delaying the introduction of tighter privacy laws though, the UK too was accused of such tactics. Conservative politicians in particular being charged with attempting to filibuster the vote, thereby talking so long on the subject without stopping, that the bill is delayed or possibly even prevented.
Unfortunately though, all of these votes and laws, are only relevant to a draft bill at the moment. It's hoped that it will come into effect by 2016, at which point it will no doubt have seen several rewrites. However, don't think that this will mean much of a slackening of its policies, as this has been one of the most hotly lobbies pieces of draft legislation ever. Support is only likely to grow as more NSA revelations come to light.
On top of that, European politicians keenly remember the SOPA and PIPA protests which turned their heads on privacy and freedom of speech online, leading many of them to turn on US pushed laws that would have crippled online expression. They would be fools to attempt to side with the US now that public opinion on the matter is so obvious.
KitGuru Says: This is great news for anyone that's a fan of keeping their personal information away from the NSA's grasping fingers. Combined with US politicians that are looking to gut the NSA's power base, we could have a very different online world in just a few years.