By Sylvie Guillaume - 20th June 2013
Alongside many other colleagues, I already had doubts on the loyalty of our US partner when I objected to the EU-US Passenger Name Records (PNR) agreement last year, arguing that the data protection safeguards foreseen do not meet EU standards
Sylvie Guillaume MEP
As a member of the European parliament, working on civil liberties for several years already, I find it absolutely unacceptable that the US authorities have access to EU citizens' data.
Such generalised access to EU citizens' data is clearly not compliant with the EU's current data protection legislation.
Alongside many other colleagues, I already had doubts on the loyalty of our US partner when I objected to the EU-US Passenger Name Records (PNR) agreement last year, arguing that the data protection safeguards foreseen do not meet EU standards.
At a time when the EU is about to open negotiations for an EU-US trade agreement, this highly sensitive issue must seriously be taken into account.
In that context, I'm also wondering what is really hidden behind this generalised surveillance?
When we know that Germany is the European country mainly concerned, I can hardly believe that the purpose of the National Security Agency's (NSA) snooping and surveillance of electronic communication is purely based on security reasons but may be more for commercial ones.
Given that many key questions remain unanswered, I'm now eager to know what the US reaction to the letter that EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding sent to the Attorney General on 10th June with regard to accessing and processing of data of EU citizens will be.
I hope we will soon have the opportunity for an honest and open debate in order to clarify the respective responsibilities of not only the US authorities and the American private companies involved, but also the European administration and the national governments.
At least this scandal has had a positive effect by highlighting a crucial need for a growing awareness on the threats to privacy our citizens are exposed to in their daily life.
It shows even more clearly that we need a strong legal framework for the protection of personal data, providing a strong compliance with the fundamental principles of data minimisation and purpose limitation, and restoring citizens' control over the way their personal data is processed.
Members of the European parliament will have to keep this in mind when voting on the reports of our colleagues, Jan Albrecht and Dimitrios Droutsas, in the coming weeks.
Sylvie Guillaume is a member of parliament's S&D group