12 March 2014

NSA revelations: MEPS vote to withhold consent on TTIP deal unless data privacy is respected.

Vote today also calls for data protection to remain outside trade talks

Simon McKeagney, Editor

The European Parliament will today vote on whether it should withhold its consent for an EU-US free trade deal unless it fully respects EU citizens’ data privacy. This comes following an inquiry report on US National Security Agency (NSA) and EU member states surveillance of EU citizens, approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. It adds that data protection rules should be excluded from the trade talks and negotiated separately with the US.

The text, which passed the Civil Liberties Committee last week condemns the “vast, systemic, blanket collection of personal data of innocent people, often comprising intimate personal information”, adding that “the fight against terrorism can never be a justification for untargeted, secret or even illegal mass surveillance programmes”.

Take data protection out of TTIP

Data protection should be ruled out as part of the negotiations and the deal could be endangered “as long as blanket mass surveillance activities and the interception of communications in EU institutions and diplomatic representations are not fully stopped and an adequate solution for data privacy rights of EU citizens, including administrative and judicial redress is not found”, MEPs say.”

MEPs also called for "immediate suspension" of the Safe Harbour privacy principles (voluntary data protection standards for non-EU companies transferring EU citizens’ personal data to the US). These principles “do not provide adequate protection for EU citizens” say MEPs, who urge the US to propose new personal data transfer rules that meet EU data protection requirements.

The United States is keen to include data flows as part of TTIP, believing that restrictions on the flow of information present barriers for transatlantic trade. But organisations like Privacy International are concerned that such efforts could risk undermining the privacy and rights of EU citizens. 

Read the press release here.

The vote will be broadcast online:
12 March at 12pm CET
EPTV Schedule:

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