The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield has come under scrutiny once again after 17 civil society organisations (the Coalition) sent a letter to the European Commissioner for Justice and Consumers.
The 28 February 2017 letter raises the issue as to the breadth of Section 702 of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act (FAA), which provides authority for the United States government's PRISM and UPSTREAM surveillance programmes. The Coalition argues that these programmes violate international human rights standards, as they require internet companies to capture and turn over to the government communications within very broadly defined categories.
Section 702 surveillance powers were the focus of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decision that repealed the 'safe harbour' programme in the United States, and the Coalition's letter recommends that the FAA must be amended in order to comply with that decision. The Coalition argues that, in the meantime, the Commissioner must suspend the Privacy Shield. Though officially approved by the European Commission, the Privacy Shield continues to face criticism and calls for its suspension. Human rights organisations have argued that the Privacy Shield still fails to comply with CJEU requirements, noting fears that it is insufficient to ensure protection of the rights of digital users; that it will perpetuate human rights violations; and that it will undermine trust in the digital economy. The Coalition reiterated these arguments in its recent letter.
The Coalition recommends that the FAA's revisions include the breadth of definitions, the amount of data retained in surveillance databases, the number of...