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05 March 2014

Transatlantic Data Flows and the Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

How do we ensure Europe’s data-protection standards are maintained in the context of the transatlantic relationship- even in the face of the controversial Snowden revelations?

Jan Philipp Albrecht MEP, European Green/EFA Group

On 5 March in the European Parliament, the Green Group held a hearing on “Transatlantic Data Flows and the Trade and Investment Partnership ( TTIP )" .

Representatives from civil society organisations working on data and consumer rights, as well as representatives from the European Commission took part in a lively discussion on how to ensure Europe’s data-protection standards are maintained within the context of the transatlantic relationship- even in the face of the controversial Snowden revelations.

Anna Fielder of Privacy International and Kostas Rossouglou from the European consumer umbrella organization BEUC, discussed the possibility that regulations on e-commerce and electronic data flows in trade agreements could pose a risk to privacy rights.

Present in the audience was a member of the negotiating team from the EU Commission, who assured the audience that their mandate is clear: No rules on data protection in TTIP. But how the Americans can be convinced to accept this, having already submitted a draft of the chapter on e-commerce, unfortunately, remains open.

In the context of the Snowden revelations, it is also clear that Europe urgently needs to invest in building an independent IT Industry, down to the hardware level, if we want to be protected from mass surveillance by foreign countries.

One conclusion from the discussion was that such trade agreements must not provide preferential treatment to European companies, which results in prohibiting the provision of communication security measures for European citizens. Instead, it may even be a part of the constitutional duty of the state to protect our fundamental rights, as the former German Constitutional Court judge Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem recently explained at a conference in Brussels.

Program available here.

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