Access Now signs international joint statement on privacy and data protection

Today, Access Now joined a coalition of digital rights and consumer privacy organizations to ask the Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners to focus on the need to update and enforce privacy laws in the digital age. The statement comes as the Commissioners and Data Protection Authorities gather in Amsterdam for an annual conference to discuss new and emerging issues in technology and privacy.

From the statement:

“There is a long tradition of civil society engagement with the annual International Privacy Conference There has always been a “constructive tension” between the Data Protection commissioners and civil society. But we have always shared a common goal – the strengthening of fundamental rights and the protection of privacy and data protection. Toward those objectives, we remain united.”

While Access Now believes the so-called Bridges Report that was published in the days leading up to the conference makes important recommendations to improve transparency and international cooperation, its failure to provide recommendations on legislation or other binding policies was a missed opportunity.

The focus on the Bridges Report signals a priority for non-legislative solutions, but by itself, the Report fails to go far enough. The Privacy Conference must address the full range of solutions to governments’ failure to protect privacy. Only comprehensive surveillance reform will bring practices in line with international obligations.

“In the wake of two years of revelations about global surveillance and the recently struck down Safe Harbor agreement between the E.U. and the U.S., now would have been the prime time to make concrete recommendations on legislative changes needed to protect privacy for users at risk around the world,” said Access Now U.S. Policy Manager Amie Stepanovich.

“Our experience with Safe Harbor has again proven that effective data protection cannot be provided by stand-alone self-certified and self-regulatory regimes. It is unfortunate that the report focuses on these approaches rather than acknowledging the potential of the ongoing E.U. Data Protection Reform package that can provide updated, strengthened, binding and enforceable rules for users’ rights,” said Estelle Massé, Policy Analyst at Access Now.

Stepanovich has previously explained how the opinion of the Court of Justice of the E.U. striking down Safe Harbor demonstrates that there is an international problem with overbroad surveillance that transcends borders. Access Now’s Policy Counsel Drew Mitnick has also explained the connection between the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, currently being debated in the U.S. Senate, and the Safe Harbor.

You can read the statement here.