European Parliament Warns About US Surveillance

In mid-January, the European Parliament released a cautionary report indicating that EU clouds may be being monitored by US data surveillance trams. This report will put pressure on cloud hosts to raise their game in terms of security. For most businesses, their cloud activity is very transparent and surveillance, which is for terrorist activity, should present no problems. But, it is out there.

The study used by the European Parliament was prepared and provided jointly by the Centre d’Etudes Sur Les Conflits and the Centre for European Policy Standards. Cloud surveillance has always been a concern but the new report should help cloud hosts and cloud users realize what they are up against.

Flag of the European Parliament 1973-1983. Lat...

Flag of the European Parliament

Centre For European Standards

The Centre for European Standards has been particularly interested in all things cloud computing of late. The organization has a full slate of standards and policies to be implemented in 2013 and more to follow in 2014.

The growth of cloud computing has been exciting and to a degree a bit underestimated. It is clear that businesses see the benefits of this platform, which is designed for easy sharing capabilities. The Centre for European Standards is considering a host of interesting policy changes to ensure the transparency of the cloud, lift security standards and open the industry to cross-border competition.

This particular study is entitled “Fighting cyber-crime and protecting privacy in the cloud.” It specifically examines the “legal framework of the Foreign Intelligent Surveillance Act (FISA). This act gives the US, the right to monitor data from non-US residents and organizations as an anti-terror preventive defense.

Calls for Negotiations

The report indicates that: “The EU should open new negotiations with the US for recognition of a human right to privacy which grants Europeans equal protections in US courts.” 

The recommendation is that the European Parliament should consider amending the current data protection scheme. The report suggests that all surveillance should be reported to the cloud user and host.  The basis of the argument is integrity of cloud submissions, which cloud hosts and business communities are both anxious to improve. There have been concerns about who sees what in the cloud.

On behalf of the US, William Kennard, US ambassador to the European Union replied that “fears of mass surveillance are unwarranted.” The Ambassador says that all law enforcement and national security investigations already require legal and judicial permission. However, the report indicates that FISA “circumvents those permissions for non-Americans.” The topic will be debated in Parliament soon.


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