Data protection in TTIP/TAFTA – how to make a bad situation worse

By EDRi · June 13, 2013

Data protection in TTIP/TAFTA – how to make a bad situation worse

The Financial Times and Washington
reported on 13 June that the European Commission – before the
full scope of PRISM became known – watered
its proposed Data Protection Regulation to weaken rules for
transferring data to law enforcement authorities outside the EU.

If these rules had been maintained, the position of the European Union in future negotiations with the USA on law enforcement access to data would have been far stronger.

Unfortunately, despite Commission Vice-President Reding’s best efforts, the rest of the Commission caved in to US demands and blindly weakened its own position.

It is this inability of the European Commission to defend European interests in negotiations with the United States that is the reason behind the latest round of lobbying by the highest levels in the US
administration to include data protection in the planned EU/US free trade agreement (TTIP/TAFTA).

The EU caved in on the transfer of financial data to the US, the EU caved in and approved an unquestionably illegal agreement with the USA
on airline passenger records (PNR), the European Commission caved in and deleted protections for law enforcement access to data, the European Commission failed on every single point it asked for in ACTA.

These European failures offers hope to the USA with regard to a major strategic problem. The USA already has one scandal on government access to data (PRISM) undermining trust in US companies. They know that the
lack of a comprehensive privacy framework means that a scandal regarding corporations’ use of data is inevitable. The US desperately needs to ensure that Europe does not have a privacy framework that will give it a major competitive advantage.

And that is where the drive to include data protection in TTIP/TAFTA comes in. They know they can win. They know that the European Union will once again work against its own strategic interests. We know why the US would want to include data protection in the TTIP/TAFTA agreement. Why would any European politician, why would anyone with Europe’s best
interests at heart, want this?

Trade is for negotiating. Rights are for defending.

Europe now has a choice. Either Europe sets a gold standard for the world, or we negotiate away our citizens’ rights and business advantage. Again.