Compliance Management, Threat Management, Privacy

FBI access to private data in Europe pending

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 agreementwith the United States that would allow the FBI to see the credit card historiesand internet browsing habits of European citizens. The agreement wouldmark a substantial lowering of the barriers to the provision of datafrom Brussels to Washington.

News of the state of the talks has angered privacy organizations. Oneleading campaigning organization, Privacy International, said on Monday itwould consider taking legal action against the commission.

"It is very much on the cards for Privacy International, or one of theother civil rights organizations, to take legal action againstBrussels," said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. "Itwould depend very much on how the framework has been established. Wewill have to see the text, consult the legal experts and see where westand."

"One of the key problems is the secrecy which has surrounded theterms," said Davies. "We have no knowledgeabout where our information will flow once it reaches the U.S. In allrespects, this is a bad deal for Europeans. It plays into the hands ofthe 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 ittackle the threat of terrorism. Talks to gain access to citizens' datawere ramped up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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