US tech snooping is a trade barrier

 shoe phoneThe US government’s mass surveillance of the whole world has become a trade barrier for European Internet companies trying to provide services in the United States, a top EU official claims.

Paul Nemitz, a director in the European Commission’s justice department said that US citizens are deterred from using European e-mail providers because they do not get the same protection as they would by using US providers, said

Laws which empower the NSA to basically grab everything which comes from outside the United States, is a real trade barrier to a European digital company to provide services to Americans inside America.

Nemitz, who is overseeing an overhaul of the EU’s 20-year-old data protection rules, told a conference on data protection in Paris that an American in the United States using a European service does not have the same level of protection as he would if he used an American service.

Using a European service, his communication is transmitted outside the United States, so it is subject to interception.

The comments underscore the widespread unease within Europe about access to people’s data by both security services and companies. They also come at a time when Brussels and Washington are renegotiating a data-sharing agreement – called Safe Harbour – used by over 3,000 companies.

The Safe Harbour agreement makes it easier for US companies to do business in Europe by certifying that their handling of user data meets EU data-protection laws.

The EU wants Washington to guarantee that it will only access Europeans’ personal data for national security reasons when it is strictly necessary, as it does with US citizens’ data.

Meanwhile the EU is also negotiating a new pan-European data- protection law which would impose stiff fines on companies mishandling personal data in Europe.

Companies in both the United States and the EU have lobbied against some parts of the new rules, arguing that they will impose too much red tape on businesses.