Snowden Scandal requires strong political signal

6th October 2015 - Deirdre Clune MEP

Speaking at a Council of Europe debate on National Security and Access to Information Senator Deirdre Clune described the recent Snowden affair as a ‘wake up call’ for all concerned with the right to privacy of personal information

“The revelations hit a raw nerve in Europe and highlighted how personal data can be freely viewed and utilised by Companies,” said Senator Clune.

“I believe there is solid support for data supervision when required in the fight against terrorism and protection of our freedom to carry out our daily lives in safety. However, a balance must now be struck to ensure that surveillance of personal data is not abused and unwarranted intrusion into our personal lives is prevented.
“It is in the interests of all national Governments to have a clear legal framework at the European level that makes this distinction and sends a strong political signal that personal privacy is a fundamental right in the EU.

“As such I am heartened to see that the EU commission is moving to address the differences that exist between the US and the EU in terms of regulating data.

“In the US, one is permitted to process data unless it is specifically prohibited, in the EU one cannot process data unless it is specifically authorized.  There is a clear difference and whilst I fully respect the absolute right of the US to operate as it sees fit – I believe we need to ensure that US companies engaging with Irish and EU citizens follow EU rules.

“The European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, has made proposals, which she hopes to have in place by next May, ensuring companies who offer services and products to European consumers, must play by European rules regardless of where they are based.”

Senator Clune concluded: “I welcome this approach and believe such proposals will succeed if they strike the right balance between consumer and business interests. To date the supervision in this area has been non-existent and relies on self- regulation and codes of conduct, which is simply not good enough and open to abuse. Sheer mass collection of data is simply not compatible with European principles.”

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