Facebook and Google to treat Europe as the 51st State of the USA

facebook2

On the 4th of February 2013 seventeen prominent US consumer and civil liberties organizations addressed a strong petition letter to highly ranked executives of the American government in Washington and to one American in Brussels, Mr. William Kennard, American Ambassador of the US Mission to the EU. Every European needs to know what all those people are asking for in this letter.

It is very rare that we see American organizations coming together to convince the American authorities to stop harassing European policy makers on an issue. This Aurora Borealis occurred a couple of days ago where all those people asked officially from their compatriots to support the efforts of Europe to establish an enhanced unified EU framework for data protection and stop the fierce American lobbying campaigns against that. Moreover, earlier on, in the end of 2012 the same group of organizations wrote in another letter, to the EU this time: “promotion of stronger privacy standards in Europe will benefit consumers around the globe, as businesses improve their privacy practices and security standards”.

EU reform of data protection rules

Before we go any further into the critical analysis of the preposterous involvement of American companies with European policy making, it is of critical importance that we see here what exactly this European reform is and how it is bound to significantly upgrade the data protection standards for the European consumer.

It was high time that this reform was made, in order to substitute the rather obsolete data protection rules that had been set in 1995. It is obvious that these rules that were enforced at a time when the Internet was only a promising project have little validity today. In a world of more than 2 billion internet users and more than 1 billion facebook members, data protection is as important as an issue as global warming. Every day we interact on the Web in various environments like cloud, e-shops, forums etc. and we are constantly asked to provide personal information in order to be provided with a service. This tends to happen so often that we usually do not seem too much worried when we give personal information in bulk quantities.

Moreover, the Internet has become a huge market arena for all types of innovative business models that require data from the user without the company being compelled to obey to any precise law or rule on how to collect, process and share private data. Particularly, companies like Google or Facebook collect and process private databases in an obscure and covert way and on the top of that they are free to commercialize all the data they gather and gain billions of euros. At least in Europe, until now, we are neither protected sufficiently by the European law nor aware of the risks that we run when we surf on the Web. Consequently, this reform is long awaited and will fill a huge gap in the critical issue that is called “European Consumer Protection”.

The benefits of the reform in Data protection rules in Europe that has been proposed by the European Commission on the 25th of January are threefold:

a) The reform aims to succeed a global set of data protection rules for all 27 country members. This basically means no more 27 different and colliding set of rules that increase cost and bureaucracy for business operations on the Web.

b) Companies will be fully aware of what they are allowed and what they are not allowed to do when it comes to the registration, processing or sharing of private information. Most importantly, the European Internet user will be notified when their private data are being hacked. Consequently, the European Web will be a safer environment and this in turn will establish a better business environment with more business opportunities and of course jobs. As Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission in charge of Justice and Alan Shatter, the Irish Justice Minister said in Dublin 2 weeks ago “EU GDP could grow by a further four per cent by 2020 if the EU takes the necessary steps to create a modern digital single market”.

c) The reform will pass new rules that will inform the European consumer about the mysterious voyage of his private data: where they are, where they are going, who can share them with whom etc.

Well, it seems that this reform that is currently at the top of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU and is expected to be voted by the European Parliament this April, is exactly what the European consumer and Business needed at this point. But why then the American side, as pointed out in the letter above, is trying to sabotage the whole venture?

Earth and Water for Facebook and Google

There is no doubt that the Americans that addressed that letter to the US officials and the US Mission to the EU in Brussels knew very well what they were talking about. During the last year, in view of this coming reform in the European data privacy rules, numerous complaints from EU stakeholders have come up to the surface about the pressure that the US lobby mechanism in Brussels is putting on them to influence their policy decision making. This sounds like a horror movie! And yet it is 100% true!

Let’s start with the vice-president of the European Commission, EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, who described last year the US lobbying effort on the issue as “absolutely fierce”, according to the Telegraph. What is more, Jan Philipp Albrecht, the German MEP that is fighting for stricter data privacy rules in the European Parliament has stated in Financial Times: “Throughout the last year there has been a massive campaign from the side of AmCham [American Chamber of Commerce], which organized events throughout Europe and met with many MEPs in Brussels and Strasbourg”… “But now, since January when my report was published, lobbyists, especially from Silicon Valley, have stepped up their campaign to water down the EU privacy regulation.” Also, Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority, has repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction for the unorthodox US lobbying on this issue, and particularly for the approach of the infamous Internet Giants of the Silicon Valley.

The capital of Europe is not Palo Alto

It is quite evident what is going on here. Europeans protest for the unbelievable pressure of Facebook and Google to influence European policy making. Even Americans protest for the inappropriate behaviour of their compatriots as if they are apologizing on behalf of those American Internet Dinosaurs. I then felt the need to write also a small letter, as member of the European Sting, to those people that enjoy the excellent California climate all year round and think that Europe is the 51st State of America.

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg from Facebook, Dear Mr. Page and Mr. Brin from Google,

We Europeans think that we have the right to define our destinies. We have done so for thousands of years and we will certainly keep doing so. No matter how much money you spend on lobbying in Brussels it is not possible to sabotage this crucial reform of Data Privacy in Europe. It is not possible to make alterations on the reform just because you will not be able any more to gather, process and store in the obscure way you are used to the private data of the European consumer. Data Privacy is sacred in the Old continent and this will not change no matter how many galas or dinners or newsletters you send to EU officials. We do not buy and sell private data here like you do back home.

Please try to master the term cultural and geopolitical market diversity that I am sure you will find somewhere in your business development plan and give Europe the right to protect the European consumer in a better way than the way the American consumer is protected online at this moment.

Leo Buonapartis

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN agencies launch emergency plan for millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

“TTIP can boost the European project”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015 on TTIP

Who would pay and who is to gain from the EU-US free trade agreement

Mine ban agreement ‘has saved countless lives’, but ‘accelerated efforts’ needed to end scourge for good: Guterres

Quashing myths on 2019-nCoV for better public management

Why trade wars have no winners

Women in Switzerland have gone on strike – this is why

Act now to prevent Desert Locust catastrophe in Horn of Africa: UN agencies

Can climate change wait for the US to rejoin the Paris agreement?

High internet taxes are restricting access and slowing economic growth

‘Real change’ involving women in peace and security, still too slow, Guterres tells Security Council

SRHR and ending HIV: Can one be achieved without the other?

Paris agreed with Berlin over a loose and ineffective banking union

How we can survive the great COVID lockdown: IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath

Seaweed, enzymes and compostable cups: Can ‘Big Food’ take on plastic and win?

Making Artificial Intelligence ethical, safe and innovative

State aid: Commission invites comments on simplified rules for State aid combined with EU support

Convincing the Germans to pay also for the unification of Eurozone

5 ways to go green in your own kitchen

No tears for Cyprus in Brussels and Moscow

Secretary-General calls for global participation in UN75 dialogues for better future for all

Parliament approves key directive regulating professional qualifications

EU confronts environmental threats as global leaders attempt to revive the global sentiment at NYC climate week

Google’s hot summer never ends: EC to launch ANOTHER antitrust inquiry against the American giant

Iran: BBC and other broadcast journalists harassed; families threatened – UN experts

Pharmaceuticals spend millions to push TTIP while consumer groups spend peanuts

EU Budget 2019: focus on the young, on migration and innovation

Health spending set to outpace GDP growth to 2030

Fossil fuel support is rising again in a threat to climate change efforts

Coronavirus: Commission starts testing interoperability gateway service for national contact tracing and warning apps

Here’s how the EU is doing on gender equality

How a different kind of investment could transform Latin America

The price of centralization of human resources for health

In the United States, there aren’t enough hours in the week to make rent

EU to give more power to national antitrust authorities in a bid to secure regulatory fines

Two days left until General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), lots of newsletter opt-outs but does the EU citizen really know?

What are Asia Pacific countries getting right in the fight against cancer?

MEPs call for EU rules to better protect minorities’ rights

EP leaders call for negotiations on upgraded Transparency Register to continue

Boeing subsidy case: World Trade Organization confirms EU right to retaliate against $4 billion of U.S. imports

EU-US Privacy Shield data exchange deal: US must comply by 1 September, say MEPs

Is the European Banking Union an impossible task?

Balancing The Broken See-Saw of Gender Power Dynamics as a Medical Student

The middle-class dream is moving beyond millennial reach

The benefits of a cashless society

EU approves disbursement of €500 million in Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine

Sudan: top UN official demands cessation of violence and rape against civilians by security forces

Timor-Leste Foreign Minister highlights value of UN in resolving conflicts

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

Fighting Depression In the Isolation of COVID-19

Charges against Baha’i in Yemen must be dropped: UN experts urge release of detainees

Syria: A bloody tracer of Trump – Putin rapprochement

What is true and not true about the new Coronavirus?

Scientists in Iceland are turning carbon dioxide into rock

Be a part of the World Forum on Future Trends in Defence and Security

Hiring more female leaders is good for profits. Here’s the evidence

Lithuania vs Parliament over 2014 EU budget

EU’s guidelines on net neutrality see the light although grey areas do remain

‘A new chapter’ dawns for democracy in Guinea-Bissau: top UN official

6 ways social innovators are harnessing 4IR technologies for social change

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. I am an European. There are also complaints about the draft of the “reform” here. You are not speaking for all Europeans. You should address the problems we Europeans and others have with the draft. The times of an unprofessional nationalism are gone. Solve the problems. And solve them so, that data protection is global. Even Europeans shall be without data protection if the stay in Turkey, Afghanistan, Bali or USA if we follow the draft. The way how global problems can be solved are shown by the Geneva convention, the WTO and WIPO. Not by a drawback in nationalism of the 19th century. Become professional instead of emotional.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The European Sting, Facebook and Google to treat Europe as the 51st State of the USA, di Leo Buonapartis: articolo online. […]

Leave a Reply to Wolfgang Ksoll Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s