Civil Liberties Committee calls for tighter data protection for EU, following NSA revelations

The preliminary conclusions of an inquiry into the NSA surveillance of EU citizens call for political and technology changes

The preliminary conclusions of an inquiry by the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee into the surveillance of EU citizens by the US National Security Agency (NSA), presented to members of European Parliament (MEPs), call for political and technology changes.

The draft conclusions call for an EU cloud and proper analysis of the use of open source software, as well as political signals from the US that it understands the difference between allies and adversaries.

The conclusions presented to MEPs by committee lead Claude Moraes said Parliament’s technical capabilities and options should be properly assessed, including the possible uses of open source software, cloud storage and greater use of encryption technologies.

“Any of this data stored in US companies' clouds can potentially be accessed by the NSA. An EU cloud would ensure that companies apply the high standards of EU data protection rules, and there is also a potential economic advantage for EU businesses in this field," he said.

There were suggestions that changes should also be made to trade deals between Europe and the US to better protect citizen data. “We need to ensure that strong data privacy protections are achieved separately from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP),” said Moraes. 

For example, the committee said the European Commission should suspend the Safe Harbour principles regarding data protection standards that US companies should meet when transferring EU citizens’ data to the US, and instead negotiate new, appropriate data protection standards.

It also urged the EU’s executive arm to suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) deal with the US until a “thorough investigation is carried out to restore trust in the agreement.” 

In October, members of the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the suspension of an EU agreement with the US that allows US authorities to monitor financial transactions on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift).

MEPs can table amendments to the draft resolution. It will be put to the vote by the Civil Liberties Committee at the end of January 2014 and Parliament as a whole on 24-27 February.

Read more on Cloud storage