Stop spying on us, European Parliament tells US

The European Parliament has voted to allow suspension of data-sharing agreements if necessary but won't break off trade talks

The European Parliament gave European Commissioners and national ministers some extra ammunition Thursday in discussions with the U.S. following allegations against that country about spying and the Prism scandal: possible suspension of data-sharing agreements.

The Parliament called on the U.S. to provide full disclosure of any spying activities, and set up an inquiry to look into the allegations, but stopped short of suspending bilateral trade talks due to start on Monday. The resolution was approved by 483 votes to 98 with 65 abstentions.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) said that the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and E.U. member states should consider "all levers at their disposal" in negotiations with the U.S., including suspending deals for sharing air passenger (Passenger Name Record) data and bank data (the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme).

The resolution also expresses grave concern that similar surveillance programmes may be run by E.U. member states, including the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. It calls on those countries to examine whether their programs are compatible with E.U. law.

The inquiry will be conducted by the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee and will look into the alleged bugging of E.U. by the U.S. National Security Agency. It will assess the impact of the alleged surveillance activities on E.U. citizens' right to privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy, and will publish its findings by the end of the year.

Parliament's resolution is not legally binding, but it also calls on E.U. countries to speed up their work on the whole data protection package. Jan Philipp Albrecht, the MEP charged with steering the E.U.'s data protection overhaul through Parliament said: "Boundaries need to be set on both sides of the Atlantic to protect the interests of E.U. citizens. Strict and consistent data protection rules are needed in the E.U. and the United States."

He also said that the current Safe Harbor Agreement between the E.U. and the U.S. should be reviewed.

Some MEPs had called for a suspension of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks. "We refuse to accept that consumer and data protection could be sacrificed for the sake of the TTIP," said Dany Cohn-Bendit and Rebecca Harms in a statement released Wednesday night.

In the final resolution, MEPs said it would be "unfortunate" if E.U.-U.S. trade talks were to be affected by the allegations, but added that "placing increasing free trade above fundamental rights and the rule of law will destroy citizens' trust in the E.U."

The talks will be handled by the European Commission. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement on Thursday that "negotiations on TTIP are and will remain top priority".

But he accepted that concerns over the spying allegations must be addressed. "We expect that the E.U.-U.S. working groups will analyze the oversight of the intelligence activities, intelligence collection and also the question of privacy and data protection," he said.

"In a recent letter to the Commissioners responsible, the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, said that the United States are ready, as soon as possible, to create these groups to analyse these matters. This Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is of major importance. For it to be a success, we need confidence among partners and confidence can come better if there is a clarification of some issues that are of very serious concern at European level," said Barroso.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetfinanceindustry verticalstransportationEuropean Parliament

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?