28 June 2008

US and EU near Private Data Deal

Issues concerning security and government encroachment into private lives have largely been discussed concerning US post-9/11 policy. The US PATRIOT Act is just one example, but there are many more.

Another Point of View has posted fairly extensively about this and recently wrote this excellent review about US policy leeching its way into Canada. The US agenda to govern and control more of what is Canadian has been aided and abetted by former PM Paul Martin and now the Harper government.

Amidst these Canadian (and Mexican) privacy concerns comes a report today of the United Sates and the European Union nearing an agreement for handing over to the US the private data of EU citizens.

The United States and the European Union are near a deal on letting law enforcement and security agencies obtain private information like credit card transactions and travel histories about people on the other side of the Atlantic, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The newspaper, which obtained an internal report on the potential agreement, said it would amount to a diplomatic breakthrough for U.S. counterterrorism officials...

The Bush administration wants to resolve the issues before leaving office in January and is hoping for an agreement that would not require congressional approval...

The talks resulted from conflicts between the United States and Europe over information-sharing after the September 11 attacks. The Bush administration had demanded access to passenger data held by airlines flying out of Europe and by a consortium, known as Swift, which tracks global bank transfers. Several EU countries objected, citing privacy laws.

U.S. and EU officials hope to avoid future confrontations "by finding common ground on privacy and by agreeing not to impose conflicting obligations on private companies," the Times quoted Stewart Baker, assistant secretary for policy at the Homeland Security Department, as saying...

Negotiators are trying to work out minimum privacy rights standards, such as limiting access to information to "authorized individuals with an identified purpose" for seeing it, the Times said.

This looks like an extension of the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership - soon to be 'The Americas' SPP? - to across the pond.

Recommend this post