Privacy campaigners are threatening to sue the European Commission over its plans to release citizens' data to the FBI.
The Commission is understood to be close to finalizing an agreement
with the United States that would allow the FBI to see the credit card histories
and internet browsing habits of European citizens. The agreement would
mark a substantial lowering of the barriers to the provision of data
from Brussels to Washington.
News of the state of the talks has angered privacy organizations. One
leading campaigning organization, Privacy International, said on Monday it
would consider taking legal action against the commission.
"It is very much on the cards for Privacy International, or one of the
other civil rights organizations, to take legal action against
Brussels," said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. "It
would depend very much on how the framework has been established. We
will have to see the text, consult the legal experts and see where we
"One of the key problems is the secrecy which has surrounded the
terms," said Davies. "We have no knowledge
about where our information will flow once it reaches the U.S. In all
respects, this is a bad deal for Europeans. It plays into the hands of
the U.S. in the worst possible way."
Davies added that U.S. laws made it impossible to exchange data fairly between Europe and America.
The United States is keen to gain access to European citizens' data to help it
tackle the threat of terrorism. Talks to gain access to citizens' data
were ramped up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.