EU Parliament Calls for Stronger Privacy Protections and Asylum for Snowden

Published: October 29, 2015 7:58 PM /



In the wake of the Snowden revelations, the EU Parliament passed a resolution in March of 2014, calling on the EU Commission to do more to protect the privacy of EU citizens. Parliament has recently passed a new resolution taking stock of the Commission's actions since that date, and finding them inadequate. This resolution was passed 342 votes to 274. The resolution is non-binding, so it can't actually compel any action to take place, but it does give some insight into the current mood in Europe regarding mass surveillance.

The resolution shows great concern over data transfers to the US and calls on the Commission to, “immediately take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the US are subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU." Although Parliament applauds the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice which overturned the Safe Harbor deal which allowed routine transfers of data from Europe to the US, they are aware that the Commission is working with the US on a replacement deal. The resolution asks the Commission to consider the privacy impact that any replacements to the Safe Harbor deal might have, and to prepare a report on it by the end of 2015. The resolution also calls for the end of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, which allows the transfer of certain banking information to the US in connection with terrorist investigations.

In addition to concerns about data transfers to the US, Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance conducted by member states of the EU. Parliament is worried about recent laws passed by the UK, France and the Netherlands, which extend the surveillance capabilities of intelligence agencies. Also of great concern, is the mass surveillance of Internet traffic within the EU by a German intelligence agency in cooperation with the NSA.

Parliament also calls on the member states of the EU to grant Asylum to Edward Snowden. This resolution passed by a very narrow margin of 285 vote to 281. It asks EU members to "drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender."

Will this resolution by the EU Parliament have any effect on the Commission's or member states' policies regarding privacy protection, or will it simply be ignored? Leave your comments below.

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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.