WASHINGTON D.C. — European regulators are cracking down on how U.S. companies use data about Europeans — supposedly to protect Europeans from U.S. government surveillance. Yet the European governments have failed either to reform their own surveillance practices or address the flow of European data to truly repressive regimes.
In response to this hypocrisy, TechFreedom and leading privacy lawyer Stewart Baker are crowdfunding the Europocrisy Prize, which will be awarded to the first person to successfully file complaints in three large European jurisdictions challenging the adequacy of data protection laws in Europe’s ten biggest trading partners.
Last October the European Court of Justice struck down the 2001 Safe Harbor agreement, which governed how American companies could transfer data from the European Union to the United States.
While a new Privacy Shield agreement has been negotiated to allow American Internet companies to continue to provide service to Europeans, it did almost nothing to address the surveillance concerns raised in Schrems. Thus, German data protection authorities have rejected the new deal as inadequate, setting the stage for further revisions to be discussed in the coming weeks.
But if privacy and human rights are the main concerns, why is Europe ignoring countries that monitor Internet use, censor it, and arrest people who speak out online? The EU has turned a blind eye towards those oppressive regimes while attempting to shut out American companies that have helped make the Internet great for everyone, Europeans included.
“There are certainly legitimate privacy concerns over American surveillance practices, but they’re trifling compared what Russia, China and many Middle Eastern countries do,” said Berin Szóka, President of TechFreedom. “Rhetoric aside, recent actions suggest the European Union is more concerned with protecting its own digital companies from American competition than with actually defending the privacy rights of its citizens.”
We hope to raise $10,000 for the Europocrisy Prize. Donations, which are tax-deductible under U.S. law, can be made on our Generosity page. For further details on the prize, see Stewart Baker’s op-ed in the Washington Post and his appearance on our Tech Policy Podcast.