The European Union’s Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, announced two key provisions in Europe’s move towards greater protection for online and electronic data.
Curiously – or perhaps tellingly – her announcement comes just days after the Luxembourg-born EU bureaucrat attended the secretive 2014 Bilderberg conference that wrapped up in Copenhagen on June 1st.
In a June 6th address on behalf of the EU Justice Council she heads, Viviane Reding proclaimed progress on two fronts:
• First, agreement on the rules that govern data transfers to third countries (the so-called “Chapter V” of the Regulation).
• Second, Ministers agreed on the territorial scope of the data protection regulation. In simple words: EU data protection law will apply to non-European companies if they do business on our territory – the European Single Market.
Eerily, the mapping out of these common rules for European data is leading towards an October 2013 EU decision to complete a “Digital Single Market by 2015.”
These announcements are of particular interest because of the major company it targets but doesn’t specifically name – Google.
The revelations about mass surveillance and data collection in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks have had major impact on world affairs, in particular in Europe where outrage over privacy violations have led to an EU court ruling on the “Right to Be Forgotten.”
While the enforceability under the complications of international law and commerce remain untested and unclear, it theoretically declares that Google is required to delete the data of Europeans who request it – a clear message, even if only rhetorical.
Perhaps even more meaningful is that EU Commissioner Viviane Reding’s June 6th announcement came immediately after she was photographed meeting in private with none other than Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google, and Alex Karp – a pivotal but less known figure who heads the “big data” mining/spying firm Palantir Technologies (which has contracts with the NSA, CIA and other entities).
The London Guardian’s Charlie Skelton had the exclusive report revealing the friendly-looking-but-strictly-private conversation between Reding, Schmidt and Karp.
The official Bilderberg topic that brought them together for an off-the-record Chatham House Rules (read: secret) discussion? Wait for it… “Does Privacy Exist?”Special Report: How Bilderberg Will Use Technology to Rule by 2050
The controversial and highly secretive Bilderberg confab brought together some of America and Europe’s wealthiest and most powerful bankers, businessmen and politicians – as well as intelligence service heads (including former NSA director Keith Alexander, MI6 chief John Sawers and former CIA director David Petraeus) – to officially discuss the question “Does Privacy Exist?” as well as the topic “How special is the relationship in intelligence sharing?” Hmm… about as exclusive as [insert raunchy metaphor/joke to your liking here]…
What exactly Reding, Schmidt or any of the other attendees had to say on the topic will remain anyone’s guess – as the group releases no official statements and presumably tolerates no leaks.
However, the photo of the EU’s top privacy advocate and Eric Schmidt speak volumes enough. It is reminiscent of the backroom camaraderie shared by professional wrestler opponents, or, alternately, Democrat/Republican candidates, who play “enemies” for the public, but shake hands, share dinner and make deals in private.
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For her part – at least in public role – Viviane Reding has been an outspoken critic of the ubiquitous collection of data by U.S. intelligence agencies (and other entities) and has demanded that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other authorities not collect and store the data of European citizens, except in exceptional cases with a specific judicial basis.
She has previously thanked Edward Snowden for his leaks on mass surveillance, and recently commented, “One year ago the Snowden revelations were a true wake-up call. In order to show that we do need laws and we do need rules that protect our business and citizens from undue snooping.”
Reding criticized the U.S. for their position in negotiating the National Security exception for data collection. She stated, “Out of 13 points [on Safe Harbour], 12 have been agreed, the 13th on is the National security exception – for me it is an exception not a rule. We have a problem of definition here. It should be an exception not a hoover.”
As in, National Security is not an excuse to vacuum up all the data in the name of safety…
She added, “There should not be unregulated, direct and automatic mass access by law enforcement authorities to data of citizens held by private companies. Only where there is a clear suspicion. Not with a hoover but with tweezers.”