Surveillance: Snowden NSA Controversy

The EU Wants to Regulate US Data Practices---But Can't Touch Britain's

By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 2:34 PM

That, at least, seems to be the point of this story in the Guardian, which opens:

The EU executive is threatening to freeze crucial data-sharing arrangements with the US because of the Edward Snowden revelations about the mass surveillance of the National Security Agency.

The US will have to adjust their surveillance activities to comply with EU law and enable legal redress in the US courts for Europeans whose rights may have been infringed, said Viviane Reding, the EU's justice and rights commissioner who is negotiating with the US on the fallout from the NSA scandal.

European businesses need to compete on a level playing field with US rivals, Reding told the Guardian.

What about British intelligence?

The EU commissioner said there was little she or Brussels could do about the activities of the NSA's main partner in mass surveillance, Britain's Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ, since secret services in the EU were the strict remit of national governments. The commission has demanded but failed to obtain detailed information from the British government on how UK surveillance practices are affecting other EU citizens.

"I have direct competence in law enforcement but not in secret services. That remains with the member states. In general, secret services are national," said the commissioner, from Luxembourg.

Not, apparently, if the nation is the United States.