Published: April 2014

The U.S. should follow EU lead on privacy protections

Coalition: Privacy coalition

In light of the recent decision of the European Court of Justice to invalidate the EU Data Retention Directive, (legislation that mandates telephone companies routinely retain data on their telephone customers), privacy advocates ask the White House to review the NSA Telephone Records Collection Program and its study of Big Data and the Future of Privacy.

After years of being the subject of many legal battles, the High Court for the European Union reviewed the Data Retention Directive, which allowed the EU to compel member countries to pass laws that require data retention to protect national security. Since its adoption in 2006, many member countries felt the order violated privacy rights protected under national constitutions. After careful review, the European Court of Justice also determined that the Data Retention Directive violated fundamental rights of privacy and is therefore invalid.

Hoping to seize the momentum of the High Court's ruling, privacy advocates and Consumer Action wrote to the White House and asked the President not to renew the NSA telephone record collection program (“Section 215”) when it expires on June 20, 2014. Every expert group that has reviewed the matter has found the program ineffective and most have concluded that the program exceeds current legal authority. The routine collection of all telephone records, even for national security, is not “necessary and proportionate” for a democratic society.

In addition, advocates urged the White house to acknowledge the opinion of the European Court of Justice in the forthcoming report on Big Data and the Future of Privacy. While the Court’s judgment is based on different laws and different traditions, the opinion is central to regulating Big Data. In more direct terms, this decision is the most significant legal opinion from any court in the world on the risks of big data and the ongoing importance of privacy protection. The Court has made clear that privacy must be protected. We hope the U.S. will follow suit.

Lead Organization

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Other Organizations

American Library Association | Advocacy for Principled Action in Government | Association of Research Libraries | Center for Digital Democracy | Charity & Security Network | The Constitution Project | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of America | Consumer Watchdog | Cyber Privacy Project | Defending Dissent Foundation | Demand Progress | Electronic Frontier Foundation | Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) | Government Accountability Project | PEN American Center | Privacy Rights Clearinghouse | Privacy Times

More Information

To view or download the coalition's letter, please click here.

For more information, please visit EPIC's website.

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