US Attorney General Eric Holder is in Dublin. Arrest him!
OK, that sadly won’t happen, despite the clearly illegal theft of personal information from millions of EU citizens. However, I am reassured by an EC Memo issued today by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. “The European Union and the United States will meet in Dublin on 13-14 June to discuss issues of common interest in the field of justice and home affairs.”
Vice-President Reding is also seeking clarifications as to whether and how United States authorities are accessing and processing the data of European Union citizens using major U.S. online service providers.
The European Commission remains concerned by the question of EU citizens’ personal data being accessed and processed by United States authorities using major U.S. online service providers. The European Commission seeks clarifications on this issue. The Commission maintains that if U.S. law enforcement authorities want to access data of EU citizens on servers of U.S. companies, this should happen though formal channels, notably through the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement which is in force since 2010. Access through other means should be excluded unless in clearly defined, exceptional and judicially reviewable situations.
That’s pretty clear, blunt and straightforward. But what happens next? Will Holder stop? No. Can the EU do anything about it? No. So will Europe ban Google, Facebook, Microsoft et al? Attractive though that might sound, it’s not going to happen.
So whatever does happen, it’s going to be interesting. We’ll just have to look very closely at the weasel words that will come from both sides of the Atlantic, trying to reassure us that we have nothing to worry about while maintaining business as usual for government and the corporates.