The Collapse of the US-EU Safe Harbor

Remarkable piece by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer (subhead: “Solving the New Privacy Rubik’s Cube”):

This transformation helps explain why individuals in the tech sector increasingly have been talking about privacy. Just a week before the European decision, Apple CEO Tim Cook recognized explicitly that privacy is a fundamental human right. I said the same thing on behalf of Microsoft in a speech in Brussels this past January. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said clearly over a year ago that we want technology to advance, but timeless values should endure. And privacy is a timeless value that deserves to endure.

But privacy rights cannot endure if they change every time data moves from one location to another. Individuals should not lose their fundamental rights simply because their personal information crosses a border. While never stated quite this directly, this principle underlies every aspect of the European Court’s decision, and it makes sense.

Add to this the daily reality that personal data is often moved not by individuals, but by companies and governments. Typically, individuals are not even aware of where their information is being moved or stored. It is untenable to expect people to rely on a notion of privacy protection that changes every time someone else moves their information around. No fundamental right can rest on such a shaky foundation.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015