surveillance state fallout, EU edition

Impact of Snowden revelations regarding NSA, et al, in Europe.

New European rules aimed at curbing questionable transfers of data from EU countries to the US are being finalised in Brussels in the first concrete reaction to the Edward Snowden disclosures….

The draft would make it harder for the big US internet servers and social media providers to transfer European data to third countries, subject them to EU law rather than secret American court orders, and authorise swingeing fines possibly running into the billions for the first time for not complying with the new rules.

This isn’t just about US eavesdropping, but European surveillance as well. It will probably be watered down a bit–as perhaps it should be–but this is a good sign.

The good: companies will re-consider blind cooperation with extra-legal agencies of the police state. The normal court orders in criminal cases won’t be impacted here.

The gray area: more regulation, which I’m generally against unless it’s needed, and potential “de-globalization” of commerce.

Overall, this is a good thing, and exactly the fallout that I expected and desired. If companies stand to not only lose customers but also be fined millions or billions for complicity with the NSA or GCHQ, then they’ll think twice about doing so, and legislators in the US and elsewhere will keep their surveillance agencies on a shorter and more scrutinized leash. This is a very good thing.

There’s potential harm as well, as with any regulation and potential for exorbitant fine. Actions seen as nationalist or retaliatory, favoritism toward some companies over others, introduction of operational inefficiency in compliance with the laws… these are but a few potential downsides. Global companies should be global, and ideally, able to locate data anywhere, for availability/redundancy as well as efficiency. Now data could be more siloed as a consequence of this likely legislation, which might be more operationally complex and expensive, and less safe/redundant in the event of natural disaster or regional outage.

Nonetheless, for the time being, I take this as good news. This is the action we needed under the circumstances.

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