Brussels, BE —Today more than a dozen European and global civil society organizations wrote to Věra Jourová, the European Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, asking her to press for reform of US surveillance laws — specifically, to Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The groups insist that Europe must suspend the EU-US Privacy Shield data-transfer arrangement unless the US Congress undertakes meaningful reform of the law.
“We urge you to ensure that the United States substantively reforms its surveillance laws this year to protect the rights of non-US persons including Europeans”, the groups wrote to Commissioner Jourová. “Without meaningful surveillance reforms we believe that it is your responsibility to… suspend the Privacy Shield. We urge you to make that position clear to your counterparts in the United States during your upcoming visit.” Commissioner Jourová is scheduled to visit Washington DC in late March to discuss the arrangement.
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act is used to authorise warrantless surveillance programs like Upstream and Prism. The legislation is currently set to expire in December 2017. However, on March 1, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee will hold the first hearing of 2017 to begin negotiating an extension to the law.
“Surveillance under Section 702, including the abovementioned programmes, was at the heart of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s decision to strike down the ‘Safe Harbour’ data transfer arrangement between the United States and the European Union. Consequently, the 702 reform is a prerequisite … to meet the Court’s standard. …Safe Harbour has been subsequently replaced by the Privacy Shield”, the letter reads.
“The EU should take a stand against government surveillance, whether or not it’s conducted by the US or EU member states. It should also ensure the application of the Charter for Fundamental Rights in this context to complement the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights”, said Fanny Hidvegi, European Policy Manager at Access Now.
The letter is signed by Access Now, Bits of Freedom, Chaos Computer Club, Civil Liberties Union for Europe, Electronic Frontier Foundation, European Digital Rights, FITuG, Föreningen för Digitala Fri- och Rättigheter Initiative für Netzfreiheit, IT-Political Association of Denmark, La Quadrature du Net, OpenMedia, Open Rights Group, Panoptykon Foundation, Son tus datos, Statewatch, and Vrijschrift.
Access Now previously sent a letter to Commissioner Jourová and EU Parliament LIBE Chair Claude Moraes asking for the suspension of the EU-US data transfer arrangement pending reforms to US surveillance authorities.
European Policy Manager, Access Now
U.S. Policy Manager, Access Now