New Report on FISA Threat to Europeans' Cloud Privacy
A new report produced for the European Union finds Europeans face a significant threat to individual privacy from the ability of the U.S. Government to spy on material stored in the cloud without a warrant, as a result of the renewed FISA Act amendments.
The report, by the Centre for the Study of Conflicts, Liberty and Security, says that FISA allows “purely political surveillance on foreigners' data” if it is stored using U.S. cloud services like those provided by Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
The full report is here. [More...]
According to [report co-author]Bowden, the 2008 FISA amendment created a power of “mass surveillance” specifically targeted at the data of non-U.S. persons located outside America, which applies to cloud computing. This means that U.S. companies with a presence in the EU can be compelled under a secret surveillance order, issued by a secret court, to hand over data on Europeans. Because non-American citizens outside the United States have been deemed by the court not to fall under the search and seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment, it opens the door to an unprecedented kind of snooping.
Bowden previously served as the chief privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe. The report says the new FISA extensions are worse than the Patriot Act:
what makes FISA different is that it explicitly authorizes the targeting of real-time communications and dormant cloud data linked to “foreign-based political organizations”—not just suspected terrorists or foreign government agents.
Bowden says FISA is effectively “a carte blanche for anything that furthers U.S. foreign policy interests” and legalizes the monitoring of European journalists, activists, and politicians who are engaged in any issue in which the United States has a stake.
FISA, according to Bowden, expressly makes it lawful for the United States to do “continuous mass-surveillance of ordinary lawful democratic political activities,” and could even go as far as to force U.S. cloud providers like Google to provide a live “wiretap” of European users’ data.
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