EU Court Declares Safe Harbor Mechanism For EEA/US Data Transfers Invalid

In what may be a significant ruling for e-commerce and other e-businesses transacting in the European Union, the Court of Justice of the EU has declared the Safe Harbor mechanism for data transfer from the EU to the United States invalid.

Typically, countries in the EU afford a stronger level of protection to website users with respect to the collection, storage, and transfer of their personal information. As we’ve seen in the news of late, US companies, and the US government in particular, do not afford much respect to individual privacy. This afforded an obvious dilemma to companies that did e-business both in the EU and the US because the differing regulations on data treatment required different policies from country to country. The effective result was that companies were prohibited from transferring EU citizens’ data to servers in the US.

In 2000, the European Commission sought to fix this dilemma by developing the Safe Harbour Privacy Principles. The US-EU Safe Harbor (as we spell it in the US) outlined a mechanism of notice, choice, opt-in/opt-out security protocols which, if properly employed across an organization’s various national branches, would allow the organization to transfer EU data to US servers.

Some More Thoughts On Net Neutrality: Internet Freedom Act

To continue with my thoughts–again, I have yet to take a position on this Net Neutrality debate and will not do so until I read some concrete arguments–I did want to point out my skepticism over all the intense reaction I am seeing to the House’s proposed Internet Freedom Act.

A Facebook friend shared this DailyBeast article with me which purports to expose the cash-money behind 29 of the 31 co-sponsors of the Act.

The 29 co-sponsors received over $800,000 from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and their lobby, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

Firstly, I am not shocked that NCTA is throwing money at members of Congress. What would shock me is if NCTA had not thrown as much money at pro-Net Neutrality members as well. I mean it’s not like $800k is a huge amount of campaign cash. Split it among 29 members and, at $27.5k, you barely have enough to fund the breakfast buffet at a single campaign event. Not exactly dim-the-lights-and-shutter-the-blinds kind of money.

Some Thoughts On Net Neutrality

“Thoughts” not “position” because, to be frank, I have yet to read a compelling argument to land on either side of the net neutrality debate. I do have some concerns, however, about the “religious fervor” that pro-regulation has taken on in Silicon Valley (according to this Mercury News article at any rate).

In Silicon Valley, “net neutrality has taken on almost a religious fervor — it has become a line in the sand,” said Larry Gerston, professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State.”This is the heart of Twitter,” the company said in a statement after the FCC’s vote. “Without such net neutrality principles in place, some of today’s most successful and widely known Internet companies might never have come into existence.”

The trouble with Twitter’s comment is this: when Twitter and today’s other most successful and widely known Internet companies came into existence, there were no such net neutrality principles in place. And to the extent that such principles existed as a philosophy, but not legislation, who is to say that such principles will not continue to exist without the FCC’s current proposals?