back to article US plans intervention in EU vs Facebook case caused by NSA snooping

The US government has asked the Irish High Court to hear its information in the case between a privacy activist and Facebook. Austrian activist and lawyer, Max Schrems, brought his complaint against the social network after the revelations of the NSA's PRISM surveillance program, which he, alongside Digital Rights Ireland, …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It looks like the panic's really starting to set in.

    1. ckm5

      I doubt it

      It's far easier for the NSA to get the same information from EU governments, who are notorious for extensive spying on their citizens, even worse than the US....

      1. Tomato42
        Devil

        Re: I doubt it

        @ckm5: UK is not the whole Europe...

  2. Bob Dole (tm)
    WTF?

    so?

    >>"This is a huge chance to finally get solid answers in a public procedure."

    Do they think the NSA (US government handler) is actually going to tell them anything of value?

    At *best* what will happen is the government representative will be given an incredibly narrow "briefing" on a few minor details marginally related to the case. That way they can say "To my knowledge, Facebook has never given data about the claimants to the US government."

    More likely you'll just get a few filed letters about how Facebook has complied with all US laws and treaties signed by such and such nations with regards to protecting the data of the world's citizens. And, anyway, any snooping done by the NSA was in fact in their own best interest to protect them from terrorists, pedophiles and people selling fake Irish beer. Please think of the children. Besides, all your base are belong to us anyway.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: so?

      You may be right. I don't think the court would be much impressed. It could make for some amusing cross-examination.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: so?

        I think it is hard for Europeans to fathom just how much the US legal system and all that talk about democracy and freedom is just a front for how things really work there.

        1. ckm5

          Re: so?

          That statement would be far more appropriate in Europe. The admittedly rotten political system in the US doesn't have faceless, un-elected career civil servants protected by a self-serving system deciding the peoples future with zero input....

          I find it amazing that a continent that has created an unaccountable monstrosity like the EU can possible even think of judging the US. And I'm saying that as European married to a civil servant working for an EU government - in person it's even worse that the most absurd episode of Yes, Minister.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: so?

            Having lived in the USA for 2 years, my feeling was that I've never been in a place with less genuine freedom than there. No place I've been has been without its faults in that respect, but freedom in the USA is nothing more than a notion.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Meh

            Re: so?

            I find it amazing that a continent that has created an unaccountable monstrosity like the EU can possible even think of judging the US. And I'm saying that as European married to a civil servant working for an EU government - in person it's even worse that the most absurd episode of Yes, Minister.

            The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

            e.g. if you want unaccountability:

            Member of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

            Director of National Intelligence "No, sir."

            "It does not?"

            Director of National Intelligence "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertantly perhaps collect, but not wittingly."

            1. Mike VandeVelde

              "Not wittingly."

              Witlessly then.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's those pesky Europeans and their sense of privacy.

    If we work with the tech giants to spread propaganda, maybe they can be persuaded to abandon their sense of privacy in exchange for teh fr33 st00f.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It's those pesky Europeans and their sense of privacy."......

      If privacy was the real motive behind this then why a: does the EU not have its house in order at all. Exceptions to data-retention laws by Schrem's very own Audtria etc. b. do the 7 eye, 9 eye etc. countries still all merrily exchange information.

      The only differnence between data-accessss-greedy USA and Privacy-lecturing-EU is, perhaps, that the EU does not have anything of the scale the USA, India or China has and cripples itself with not very secure fragmented rules and implementations.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Privacy IS the real motive (of Schrems)

        If privacy was the real motive

        You say this, anonymously, as if this is some sort of EU conspiracy against the US. But it's not the EU, not even one country in the EU, it's a single individual saying to the EU - "these are your laws, uphold them" and being doggedly persistent so that the government functionaries that have been dodging their responsibilities consistently have found themselves in court.

        Schrems was able to target the US because there is evidence in the public domain of their mass surveillance and because of the "Safe Harbor" provisions. It would be possible to build a case against other EU countries with similar sureveillance (not under "Safe Harbor", but for their failure to comply with data protection laws) but you'd need evidence - and there's no sign yet of a British or French Snowden.

        EU national governments really don't want cases of this sort being brought precisely because they could be the next on the list for prosecution, and are doing their best to keep the lid firmly on their own surveillance activities - witness the fact that the "Snoopers' Charter" makes it illegal for any ISP to tell anyone the extent of the surveillance they are being obliged to conduct.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The jist of this U.S. government intervention will be...

    "Nice external investment from the U.S. you got there, Ireland. You know, a man should take care of his external investment--see that nothing happens to it."

    1. ratfox

      Re: The jist of this U.S. government intervention will be...

      To the best of my knowledge, the US government doesn't really have a say on how much is invested by US companies in Ireland. It could of course create laws against doing so, but that would probably break every treaty in the book.

      It's nice that governments are finally getting involved. It's a bit silly that companies (which are not all the size of Facebook) have to bear the brunt of what is essentially a political dispute.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The jist of this U.S. government intervention will be...

        the US government doesn't really have a say on how much is invested by US companies in Ireland

        No, the US government only has the IRS and ways to make life really difficult for those companies, especially since every single one (without exception) is presently being "creative" with how they pay tax. All is takes is the IRS auditing the companies properly for all sorts of problems to appear, and the companies know this, that is the price for having a HQ in the US and having a US passport..

        1. ratfox
          Stop

          Re: The jist of this U.S. government intervention will be...

          All is takes is the IRS auditing the companies properly for all sorts of problems to appear

          Yeah right. The companies have better accountants than the IRS and are quite safe from audits. The US isn't some dictatorship where the government can shake down companies for more tax money whenever they feel like it.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: The jist of this U.S. government intervention will be...

            "The US isn't some dictatorship where the government can shake down companies for more tax money whenever they feel like it."

            Which is why they are picking on their citizens (Civil Forfeiture)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The jist of this U.S. government intervention will be...

      "Nice external investment from the U.S. you got there, Ireland."

      The plaintiff is Schrems. Ireland only comes into it because of the external investment, in this case by Facebook. Ireland has to deal with the complaint because the ECJ told them to at an earlier hearing. It then told them they couldn't use on Safe Harbor by wiping it out. Ireland is simply piggy in the middle in this so why should the US come along and bully them? By the sound of this if it's trying to bully anyone it's the ECJ and maybe Schrems. Schrems appears to be looking forward to yanking their chain and courts don't take kindly to attempts to bully them.

  5. MrTuK

    Oops

    And someone from the NSA accidently formats not only all the data but all the backups and the backups of the backups - all by accident I assure you your honour !

    Errr Ok, we believe you, we do understand !

    YEAH RIGHT !!!

    And why you are at it Either MS stops forcing Win 10 down everyone's throat or we will force it somewhere where the sun doesn't shine !

    BTW you can stop forcing Edge onto users and give users a choice !

    And lastly and by no means by least stop Win 10 from Data Slurping data out of EU into USA because we know that breaks the rules too !

    1. James 51
      Joke

      Re: Oops

      So that's what happened to the air force complaints database.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Datamining for outliers DOES NOT WORK

    Well if the US can stick their neb in, so can I. Look, that idiot in uniform, General Alexander, created a system of data mining for terrorism. Terrorists are outliers and data mining for outliers NEVER WORKS.

    And filtering based on this faulty idea, means you're not targetting 'radical muslims' or whatever, you're targetting *everyone*.

    Your filter looks something like Everyones_Data.FilterByReligion(Muslim|Jedi).FilterByComments(Mumsnet|elReg|Slashdot)

    You can't detect religion, you filter by 'checkbox on the electoral form' or 'gps location next to mosque'.

    You can't detect radicalism, you substitute 'comments on forums' or some such garbage.

    You can't detect 'acts' so you detect 'speech' instead, people reading and writing stuff on the internet.

    i.e. you are attacking freedom of association, and freedom of speech, and you're bypassing the judicial process, eliminating right to judicial process.

    Would you lot just fnck off. Really you're not the defender of your country, you're the underminer of your people. The next step in this garbage is to define the output of the filter as the crime, i.e. terrorism becomes 'said things that might aid terrorists'. i.e. speech as terror!! All to cover the loss of face from investing in a process so flawed, and to protect your big data budgets.

    Did your algorithm spot Florida/Gay terrorist? Of course not, he's an outlier. Next time your algorithm will select lots of people who happen to live near gays to target for false prosecution.

    Data mining for outliers DOES NOT WORK. Austria lawyer is right, you are wrong. Obey the basic rights because they have stood the test of time, and your shit wouldn't survive even a cursory analysis without the 'national secrets' you hide behind.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    True enough

    In the olden days, cops and such used intuition and experience to spot the odd one out. Now we just look at everyone.

    1. Frederic Bloggs

      Re: True enough

      It's actually worse than that: we look at everyone with a computer - and we all know where that leads when humans get involved with the output.

      The computer - she say yes - so, sorry mate, you're nicked.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: True enough

      In the olden days, cops and such used intuition and experience to spot the odd one out. Now they ARE the criminals.

      Fixed it for you.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Lord, have you considered ..

    Maybe they are only there to tell the judge about his, hmm, curious pron surfing habits and how these could somehow be leaked through some security breach.

    You may have nothing to hide! But what about your judge, MP, PM, etc.

  9. Howard Hanek
    Big Brother

    Proper Response

    That revered Irishman, Jonathan Swift told us how to handle a Gulliver washed up a Lilliputian beach. Bring plenty of rope.

    He was just data gathering too.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ireland

    Where they score 2 goals and end up 1 - 1.

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