Recently Viviane Reding, the commissioner overseeing data protection, stated:  “The safe-harbour agreement may not be so safe after all, it could be a loophole” that allowed companies to shift data to the US where “data protection standards are lower than our European ones”.   Referring to one of the NSA programmes revealed by Mr Snowden, a former NSA contractor. Ms. Reding stated:  “The data protection reform is Europe’s answer.”

Of course there are other opinions which usually do not receive prominent coverage such as Europe’s data protection commissioner.

“Do not look to Europe to protect our data!”  wrote Christopher Wolf, head of global privacy and information management at law firm Hogan Lovells and co-author of a study of national security access to data in the cloud.   Wolf summarizes:  There are no guarantees, in the US or anywhere else, that authorities are abiding by the laws restricting access to personal data in the name of national security. But the degree of authorization required and the kind of review that occurs is relevant indeed to a determination of how well personal privacy and liberty are protected.

Viewed that way, the US fares better than many others.  European critics of US privacy protections would be well advised to take stock of their own countries’ national security access to personal data.

Source:  Financial Times