January 24, 2014
By SafeGov Contributor, Bryan Cunningham.
As the year changes, everyone makes lists. Here’s mine: the top 5 reasons the EU would be wrong to kill Safe Harbor. I hope EU politicians will resolve to consider them before dropping lumps of coal into their citizens’ privacy stockings. Their threat to terminate the Safe Harbor program: is based on inaccurate information; would destroy one of the few effective US legal tools to protect EU citizens’ privacy; would heavily burden US companies and trans-Atlantic commerce; has no chance to stop NSA spying– the professed goal; and is ill-timed given now that the US government now is starting to police itself.
Ongoing disclosures of classified US intelligence programs have spawned constant public handwringing and threats of retaliation by EU officials. Never mind the many revelations that European intelligence agencies practice the same types of surveillance, though possibly less effectively.
Even before the recent revelations, EU politicians and others were using claimed US privacy abuses to push stricter EU data protection laws. Lately, the threats have become louder and more specific: derail US-EU trade talks; suspend information sharing programs; and curtail or terminate the “Safe Harbor” program, which enables US companies to “import” data of EU citizens into the United States without violating EU and EU member state data protection laws. All three are bad ideas, but killing Safe Harbor is particularly shortsighted and misguided. Here are the top five reasons why.
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Bryan Cunningham is an information security, privacy, and data protection lawyer, and a senior advisor of The Chertoff Group, a global security advisory firm that advises clients on cyber security.safegoveu