back to article Big biz bosses bellow at Euro politicians over safe harbor smackdown

Big business has sent an open letter to Europe's politicians asking for urgent action on a replacement to the Safe Harbor framework. Following a decision by the European Court of Justice earlier this month that effectively ruled the longstanding trans-Atlantic agreement illegal due to NSA spying, industry has been worried …

  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    Wow, arse backwards logic and the light of freedom can be seen in the hole,

    The data is disappearing into the USian (and I might say the USUKanian) black hole. So what is needed is not a reappraisal of the actions that enable this to happen but fatter paint to cover up the ugly picture so that one can have "business certainty"?

    It's almost as if there were central bankers and court economists discussing the "strong fundamentals" of the clearly sickly-looking western economies.

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Wow, arse backwards logic and the light of freedom can be seen in the hole,

      Yeah, it seems that it is the USA that needs to get its rear in gear and get its TLA under control, then there is "nothing" to stop Safe Harbor from working. Until the USA stops trampling over people's rights, there isn't a real chance of a suitable replacement for Safe Harbor. Oh, and that should be Harbour!

  2. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    what

    "blamed everyone else", This is clearly a US problem and Americans understand it too.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    We need more safe harbors

    Just agree that any european company processing data about USA citizens can export that data to China/Iran/N. Korea under a safe harbor - all "uncertainty" removed and the free market can operate withotu those meddling buerocrats

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me quote something here..

    Something I picked up earlier today contains a choice quote that is worth repeating in its entirety before I add one rather vital detail:

    [..] Dutch MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld, of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, called Safe Harbor “bad legislation.”

    “Safe Harbor, everybody knew that it was faulty,” she said. “It was dead a long time ago. We’ve been pulling a dead horse for a long time. This body has been calling for a repeal of Safe Harbor repeatedly.”

    Thus, she also said she has little sympathy for those calling for time to digest the ECJ ruling. “Safe Harbor has been under attack for many, many years,” she said. “I don’t think the argument that we need a lot of time to deal with the fallout of this is very valid.”

    Amen to that, but there is also this other annoying niggle that US politicians are very keen to avoid talking about (in roughly the same manner as they avoided talking about the problems that Safe Harbor was helping to hide): the rights the EU is protecting for its citizens are in principle no different to the right US citizens should enjoy, unless they want to finally publicly admit that that phrase "freedom from unreasonable search and seizure" has gone the way of the dodo.

    Now, let's go and tell that the electorate, shall we?

  5. JimBob01

    More fool you?

    "This invalidation constitutes a serious disruption for the thousands of companies that have relied on the framework for commercial data transfers between the EU and the United States,”

    Maybe, rather than relying on an obviously dodgy ‘framework', they should have taken real action, ie stop dealing with US service providers, when the whole incompatible data protection legislation issue was identified?

  6. Grikath
    Boffin

    Boo.

    Hoo.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re We need more safe harbors

    "data about USA citizens can export that data to China/Iran/N. Korea under a safe harbor"

    USA sends the data direct from the gov systems to china/any other hacker. The EU dont need to agree to anything it is upto the US to meet the set standards of the EU .

    Why not just start draging in to court the big North American companys that are not complying with the rules .That is the only way that US will do anything .

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Re We need more safe harbors

      "Why not just start dragging in to court the big North American companies that are not complying with the rules?"

      It's not actually the companies fault. It's their governments.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Re We need more safe harbors

        I think much of it is the companies' fault. How much info are they sharing? We really have no way of knowing. Same with who are they sharing it with? I'm believing even CC info is being shared as more than once in the last year, I've gone to a website I've never used before to find a product and buy it and lo and behold.. my CC number is there waiting for me. Where the hell did they get that? Needless to say, I'm spooked by this whole mess of companies, governments and their agencies, etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re We need more safe harbors

        "Why not just start dragging in to court the big North American companies that are not complying with the rules?"

        It's not actually the companies fault. It's their governments.

        Actually, it's both.

        Politicians heavily depend on donations to reach and retain a high enough position to make decisions that affect us all, thus also business. Hello vicious cycle where donations buy beneficial legislation, with very little in the way to slow this down as both sides feed off each other instead of keeping each other in check.

        That means that big business roughly has the legislation it wants, or, put another way, big business could have bought the required changes long ago because this latent problem was not exactly unknown.

        I leave you to draw your own conclusions why that didn't happen in the 12 to 15 years this bit was broken, but in the land of the lawyers there is no way companies didn't know this time bomb wasn't ticking underneath it all. The approach was a classic dot con: knowing that it's going to go titsup eventually, it was milked for all it was worth, and the loud wailing is merely an attempt to extend the party. The fact that politicians have been pretending all was well is also telling as quite a few of them have a legal background - this is where you can indeed blame the government.

  8. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Qu'ell supris - World Federation of Advertisers. Wiki'd it and it says "75 of the world's top 500 advertisers". Wow, that many and it represents the 'world'. And the rest seem equally important !!!

    I think Juncker had better act quickly or society as we know it will collapse (into an ad-free world, shudder).

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Qu'ell supris - World Federation of Advertisers

      Waddaya want. The Nazgul are agitated.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Uncertainty. What uncertainty?

    It's just the opposite. When the US govt. created a legal framework enabling it to stick its nose in wherever it pleased whenever it pleased the assumptions that underpinned Safe Harbour, fragile though they may have been originally, ceased to be valid. From then on the whole situation has been in a state of limbo. The arrangement looked very dubious at best. Although the European Parliament called for it to be scrapped it continued in its little box like Schroedinger's cat. Now the ECJ has opened the box, the uncertainty has been resolved and we have certainty. The cat's dead.

    And as for European politicians blaming everyone else? Well they have exactly one direction to rightfully turn the blame. It's not themselves, it's the US govt and its agencies who undermined Safe Harbour in their greed. There's nobody else to blame and there's nobody else able to fix it unless we ditch the European declaration of human rights and reduce out own rights to those of US citizens. Somehow I don't think that's likely.

    Oh yes, they'll drag out the terrorist card again. Remember what is it the terrorists are trying to destroy: our civilisation with its values. Do we really defeat them by destroying those values ourselves?

    1. David Haworth 1
      Coat

      Re: Uncertainty. What uncertainty?

      > Do we really defeat them by destroying those values ourselves?

      Well, that's one way.

      1. VinceH
        Coat

        Re: Uncertainty. What uncertainty?

        Yeah, if we do it ourselves, there's nothing for them to destroy. That'll show 'em.

  10. Neoc

    "Big business has sent an open letter to Europe's politicians asking for urgent action on a replacement to the Safe Harbor framework"

    And that tells us all we need to know about the current USgov/NSA mindset: companies *know* it's no use trying to appeal to them to reform their way and thus aren't even trying to hide the fact that Safe Harbour is not working.

    1. Sebby

      Big Business Wrote the EU Because

      Honestly, it's better this way. I can't delete my data from the datacentres of $USCORP. Better blame the EU for ruining the fun, rather than actually complying with a usefully strict standard of data protection. Sure US.gov finally broke the deal, but now companies will actually have to pull their fingers out and respect peoples' rights instead of just promising to keep data safe.

  11. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Wrong recipient

    The US Government is the entity that breached the Safe Harbor treaty.

    Would these companies blame their beancounters if one of their customers refused to pay for years and the head beancounter told them "We can't ship that customer any more stuff until they pay their bills"?

  12. Big_Ted

    This is very easy to fix

    All it needs is at the next meeting to agree a new safe harbur is for the USA to agree to abide to the standards set by the EU on data security be it personal or non-personal.

    If they do that then there is no problem. If not then the EU should simply make a statement that the US is not willing to protect EU citizens and business so they don't get special treatment and have to operate in the same way as the rest of the world and make agreements and sign binding contracts etc just like the Chinese, North Koreans and Australians etc....

    ps wheres the FU finger icon ?

    1. Tom -1

      Re: This is very easy to fix

      No, it is not easy to fix. The USA already agreed that it would not prevent US companies from protecting data to the required standard. They then prevented US companies from doing that, without any sort or legal check that the disclosure of the data was for legitimate purposes.

      so what goo will it do if the US government undertakes the same commitment again? Why should anyone trust them - they already promised to do that, and deliberately broke that promise. That's nit a good basis for trust.

      It's quite clear that the USA doesn't give a shit about rights or EU citizens, or about conforming to its international commitments, or about anything other than doing whatever it likes in the international field regardless of restrictions imposed by international law (including laws it has committed to comply with, and including laws which, although it has not committed to comply with them, it requires to be enforced on non-us governments), and regards any attempt by a non-US government to require US companies operations in that government's territory to conform to the laws of that territory as unacceptable.

      That makes the USA a country that's impossible to deal sensibly with, because no meaningful sensible deal can ever be made - the USA will break the terms any time it feels like it, and claim that there's no requirement on it to do what it agreed to do. In other words, it's impossible to fix the data protection problem, because it's impossible to trust the USA at all.

      Anyway, no civilised country or international organisation should have any dealings with a country that has declared that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to some of its activities - and that makes the USA the worlds number one pariah. Of course it was already close to that position even before the DoJ made that bizarre ruling, being the only western democracy that has ratified neither Protocol 1 nor protocol 2 of the conventions.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talking to the wrong people

    It is not the EU that these US companies should be talking to but to their own senators and congress critters, insisting that they give the US people the same data security as the EU people. That way there would be no conflicts.

    If the companies did that, and they could because they own most of the government, most of the US public would benefit as well and the surveillance society would be reduced which would pass on the benefit to the companies.

    1. Tikimon
      Happy

      Re: Talking to the wrong people

      Arrr, ya beat me to it, so SECOND THAT! Call up your Congress drones and lobbyists, fix the problem!

      (U.S. Citizen, mad as hell about all the spying)

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge
    FAIL

    Don't forget...

    This is the land of "privacy is dead... get over it"

    People here think "I've got nothing to hide, so I've got nothing to worry about" until it bites them in the ass.

  15. Panicnow

    No representation without taxation!

    Surely, Corporations that little or no tax would never get a moment's attention from our law makers!

    Or does party contributions $s count?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No representation without taxation!

      Of course contributions count. See Citizens United: $contributions equals Free Speech with some speech more equal than others.

  16. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Shareholders unite !

    Shareholders need to be asking boards of companies they've invested in some "uncomfortable" questions. Surely any half competent business manager (on either side of the pond) can't have been oblivious to the reality that sooner or later the whole safe harbour wallpaper was going to peel off and reveal the cracksgaping chasms it was hiding.

    Short of the US government passing new laws giving full legal weight to the principles of safe harbour, and somehow coming up with reasons we should trust them, then there is only one way this can go - companies stop p*ssing around with our data or face the consequences.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shareholders unite !

      Shareholders need to be asking boards of companies they've invested in some "uncomfortable" questions. Surely any half competent business manager (on either side of the pond) can't have been oblivious to the reality that sooner or later the whole safe harbour wallpaper was going to peel off and reveal the cracksgaping chasms it was hiding.

      Nope. The answer would be "we have kept up with the competition who were doing the same - we have maximised our revenue in the window we had available until our users woke up to the legal ramifications, and we will now need to seek other ways to con them out of their money revenue streams". Ethics and shareholders are rarely on the same wavelength, and as the consequences will always cost less than the profit made over the years the approach is justified - end of story. This is why fines don't work - only sticking those responsible in jail would, provided it's a barren place, not a luxury suite with Internet and TV.

      Remember, this is the country where it's OK to make money by breaking the law. As long as they don't catch you you're a hero and get to appear on talk shows and are seen as a guru, even if it later emerges you have caused a global economic crisis.

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