Nations’ Privacy Laws Clash

November 24, 2009
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James Michael, Associate Senior Research Fellow, is holding a lecture December 1st 2009 in London, England, discussing the conflicting privacy laws between Europe and the United States. Recently, the United States and Europe have been negotiating details of their rival privacy laws. Currently, the United States is part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) and Europe is part of the Council of Europe Convention and the EU directive. The United States has been pushing the limits of Europe’s privacy laws by attempting to build a center in Switzerland. SWIFT, a Belgium-based financial messaging body, is fighting the United States attempt to build the center, spending roughly 150 million Euros to prevent it. The negotiations between the U.S. and Europe are in place to discuss  the details on a system that will allow US law enforcement authorities to have access to Europe’s personal information databases. With certain exceptions, only the records of passengers traveling to the US are available to US law enforcement at this time.

Even though Europe’s privacy will be compromised, the proposed new system will be a huge benefit to the U.S. With the U.S. gaining access to ..



James Michael, Associate Senior Research Fellow, is holding a lecture December 1st 2009 in London, England, discussing the conflicting privacy laws between Europe and the United States. Recently, the United States and Europe have been negotiating details of their rival privacy laws. Currently, the United States is part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) and Europe is part of the Council of Europe Convention and the EU directive. The United States has been pushing the limits of Europe’s privacy laws by attempting to build a center in Switzerland. SWIFT, a Belgium-based financial messaging body, is fighting the United States attempt to build the center, spending roughly 150 million Euros to prevent it. The negotiations between the U.S. and Europe are in place to discuss  the details on a system that will allow US law enforcement authorities to have access to Europe’s personal information databases. With certain exceptions, only the records of passengers traveling to the US are available to US law enforcement at this time.

Even though Europe’s privacy will be compromised, the proposed new system will be a huge benefit to the U.S. With the U.S. gaining access to Europe’s personal information databases, they will have access to health care records, criminal records, financial transactions, and many other types of information. Besides the conflicting privacy laws between U.S. and Europe, the ideal solution for all nations is the development of global privacy standards. The chief executive of Google and the European Privacy Counsel have drawn attention to the need for global privacy standards by publishing articles and making speeches calling for the global agreement. Hopefully, in the near future, all nations will be able to come to a global agreement on privacy standards. Even though negotiating will be a long, tedious process involving many countries, having global privacy standards will help avoid future conflicts between countries. The world gets smaller every day, and without uniform data privacy standards, there are more opportunities for data breaches and illegal activity to occur.

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