In a piece for Slate magazine, Matt Yglesias has pointed out a potential problem for Eurosceptics on the back of the Prism surveillance scandal. Essentially, the European Union is acting as a bulwark against American attempts to snoop on the browsing habits of us Europeans.
In a piece for Slate magazine, Matt Yglesias has pointed out a potential problem for Eurosceptics on the back of the Prism surveillance scandal.
Essentially, the European Union is acting as a bulwark against American attempts to snoop on the browsing habits of us Europeans.
That’s right. The big bad EU which spends it’s time trying to impose straight bananas on the British public is actually fighting back against attempts by American corporations (with a little more than the acquiescence of the US government) to monitor us online.
As Yglesias puts it:
“The issue is that there’s a fairly long running dispute over here in Europe over what Europeans call “data protection” and American tech companies view as excessive regulation.”
Crucially, for EU commissioners personal data belongs to the individual:
“The perspective the European Commission has been pushing is that, as an official from the Justice Commission put it, ‘personal data should belong to the person’ and that this reflects ‘a fundamental right’ to privacy. In the most abract possible terms that all sounds congenial.”
However, American concerns are on the whole quite different:
“But the American view is that European regulations on this topic go much too far in terms of threatening the business model of companies – Google, Facebook, etc. – who offer services for free and derive revenue from targeting ads at their users.”
As Peter Chase, a veteran American diplomat who now represents American firms’ interests working in Brussels for the US Chamber of Commerce, puts it [Europeans] “very quickly conflate the relationship between government and the citizen and between business and the citizen.”
In other words, the US wants untrammeled commercial access to user data and the European Union is standing in their way.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.