Europeans Weigh US Demand For Private Information

It figures that accountability would be a hang-up in the Bush administration's attempt to convince European leaders that their citizens' privacy interests are outweighed by the American government's desire to know everything about everyone everywhere.

The United States and the European Union are nearing completion of an agreement allowing law enforcement and security agencies to obtain private information — like credit card transactions, travel histories and Internet browsing habits — about people on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

A predictable stumbling point:

whether European citizens should be able to sue the United States government over its handling of their personal data, the report said.

Lawsuits? Accountability? Not a chance. [more ...]

Critics of the law are concerned about its ambiguous language (the kind of language negotiators can agree upon because it doesn't mean anything).

For example, the two sides have agreed that information that reveals race, religion, political opinion, health or “sexual life” may not be used by a government “unless domestic law provides appropriate safeguards.” But the accord does not spell out what would be considered an appropriate safeguard, suggesting that each government may decide for itself whether it is complying with the rule.

“I am very worried that once this will be adopted, it will serve as a pretext to freely share our personal data with anyone, so I want it to be very clear about exactly what it means and how it will work,” said Sophia in ’t Veld, a member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands who has been an outspoken advocate of privacy rights.

The administration can't authorize a lawsuit against the United States without asking Congress to pass a law.

The administration is trying to achieve an agreement that would not require Congressional action, [Stewart] Baker [from Homeland Security] said.

The administration would like to convince the Europeans that some sort of administrative review process can be provided to resolve claims fairly. As if. Don't fall for it, Europe!

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    Had (1.00 / 1) (#5)
    by tek on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 07:35:40 AM EST
    an interesting conversation with my aesthetician yesterday, a native Brit.  She and her husband and his sister have all just become U. S. citizens.  She told me there are huge problems brewing in England over ethnic immigration, especially Muslims.  The new cultures refuse to blend and they've made so many demands to recognize their cultures, the English feel their traditions and culture are disappearing.  So, Brits are leaving England in droves, going to U. S. and Spain.

    The Pakistanis are more or less harmless. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Salo on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 10:15:16 AM EST
    Enoch Powell hasn't been proven correct.  There are not enough Pakistanis and Arabs there to make that sort of trouble.

    One of the problems here is that (none / 0) (#1)
    by zfran on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 11:13:55 PM EST
    we don't either use the safeguards we put in place or we just don't have any safeguards against what the europeans are concerned about.If I were Europe, I wouldn't trust the U.S. as far as I could throw her!!

    What I don't get is (none / 0) (#2)
    by bocajeff on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 11:31:08 PM EST
    Since we've been told for 7 years that the Europeans don't like U.S. policies and George Bush, I don't understand how the Europeans would go along with this.

    Bush is a moron, the Europeans don't agree with our terrorism support, they are more enlightened concerning civil liberties, they don't have to make a pact, and yet they will enter into this. Why, oh why?

    You would think they would wait (none / 0) (#3)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 11:47:15 PM EST
    right? But then again, there's no guarantee with the next admin . . .  

    It is not "the Europeans" (none / 0) (#4)
    by Andreas on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 05:14:59 AM EST
    Most people in Europe are aware of the fact the US government is involved in severe crimes such as torture and wars of agression. They do not endorse activities of European governments which help those criminals.

    Our government is out of control. (none / 0) (#6)
    by inclusiveheart on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 08:43:41 AM EST
    Completely out of control.

    They can't even keep track of the 300 million people here - have a no fly list that is nonsensically long - and they think they can keep track of and "get to know" billions of people all over the world?

    This is what happens when the paranoids, data management salesmen and the insanely power-hungry come together unsupervised by sane people.

    Snooping may be OK w/ European nations (none / 0) (#7)
    by wurman on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 08:51:18 AM EST
    because so many of them have ethnic + religious minorities that the governments very definitely want to monitor & maintain surveillance.  The classic example would be The Netherlands with some major violent incidents that may be a powerful inducement to go along with USA tracking methods.

    It would also seem that Interpol would have an almost "automatic" positive response.

    Another attraction, perhaps inducement, would be how the surveillance may lead to acquiring police intelligence about the drug traffickers, currency smugglers, & human slave trade (prostitution).  The capabilities that USA agencies can offer are probably very valuable resources to any police department & to any nation's intelligence operations.

    These observations don't make the "cave in" right, but certainly understandable--it's a huge temptation for easily finessed trade-offs.

    this was my point about GCHQ (none / 0) (#8)
    by Salo on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 10:13:36 AM EST
    doing the NSA domestic job for it. And vice versa.  Who's to stop it?