Europe and the European Union (EU) have been on the forefront of regulating the global tech industry. In fact, the Europeans have arguably been more aggressive on going after Microsoft and Google over antitrust and privacy than the Americans, from whence these companies came.
Now the EU is taking a cold hard look at the cloud, determining to what extent it should step in and regulate matters.
The EU is particularly interested in issues of privacy, issues that gained all the more traction after the NSA spying scandal story broke.
The European Parliament is taking the lead here. It is the body that helps set privacy regulations and lately it has been proposing more rules related to the cloud. These efforts have clearly accelerated since the Edward Snowden news emerged.
The New York Times recently looked at the issues of cloud regulation in a piece by Danny Hakim.
Given the NSA scandal, the EU is now sorely interested in keeping the U.S. government from snooping on European citizens.
“One proposed amendment would require ‘all transfers of data’ from a cloud in the European Union to a cloud maintained in the United States or elsewhere to “be accompanied with a notification to the data subject of such transfer and its legal effects,” Hakim wrote.
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That is really telling users what they probably should already know, but doesn’t stop the snoops.
Trying to restrict and protect, the EU is proposing a rule that these data transfers be blocked unless it is proven that the subject of the information approves, and is fully apprised of the privacy issues such as that fact that it may be spied upon. Again, this doesn’t stop the spying but gives users a bit of warning and some control.
One item that might actually have a bit of teeth is a rule that never passed, but whose debate is being revived, and that is a set a protocols for how court orders concerning privacy are handled across jurisdictions. “The amendment requires the operator of data servers to inform both a local ‘supervisory authority’ as well as the subject of the request, which could run afoul of American law,” Hakim wrote.
Even stronger are proposed sanctions for European company that gave away their records in ways that violate existing EU privacy laws.
What is interesting is that the NSA scandal broke in America and largely concerned Americans spying on other Americans. Yet U.S. legislators and regulators are doing nothing, barely even addressing it on our many talk shows. Meanwhile the Europeans are the ones looking to take a stand.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson