Slate reports: Lawmakers in the European Parliament have moved to combat clandestine mass surveillance programs by voting in favor of introducing tougher new data protection rules.
On Monday, the Parliament’s civil liberties committee approved the proposed reform, laying the groundwork for a significant overhaul of Europe’s current data protection framework. The changes have been in the works for 18 months, but the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures about U.S. and U.K. spy programs gave new urgency to the overhaul. The newly proposed rules, which still have to be agreed upon by EU member states, would restrict how companies such as Google and Microsoft could pass data on a European citizen to a third country. Companies would have to inform people whose data were requested and get any transfer of data signed off by the data protection authority. Any company caught breaching the regulations could face large fines of up to 5 percent of their revenue, which could in some cases amount to billions of dollars.
German member of the European Parliament Jan Albrecht described the vote as “a breakthrough for data protection rules in Europe, ensuring that they are up to the task of the challenges in the digital age.” Albrecht, a vocal critic of NSA and GCHQ surveillance on the civil liberties committee, added in a statement issued Monday that the legislation would introduce “overarching EU rules on data protection, replacing the current patchwork of national laws.” [Continue reading…]