Data protection: Claude Moraes calls for suspension of EU-US 'safe companies list'

NSA surveillance scandal

Claude Moraes, the S&D rapporteur for the European Parliament inquiry on the NSA surveillance scandal, has called for the suspension of the 2004 Safe Harbour Agreement after more evidence emerged on the failures of this system. The agreement enables US organisations who comply with EU privacy laws to join a public 'safe list'.

The Safe Harbour list – described as "misleading", "vulnerable" and "ineffective" during a European Parliament hearing with European data protection supervisors yesterday evening in Strasbourg – currently includes some 3000 organisations, but does not include airlines, banks, communication companies and many popular consumer services. In addition, in recent years several organisations have reportedly been falsely claiming to be on the list.

S&D MEP Claude Moraes, the Parliament's leading investigator on the NSA scandal, said:

"On the basis of our inquiry, the European Parliament should be calling for the Commission to suspend the Safe Harbour Agreement pending a full review of whether US companies fully comply with it. 

"The S&D Group previously opposed the Safe Harbour Agreement back in 2004, as it is a non-binding agreement offering completely inadequate protection for the personal data for EU citizens.

"Since then there has been ongoing evidence that the agreement lacks compliance especially with dispute resolution requirements, transparency and enforcement. It was signed into force in 2004 and does not meet the higher standards of protection introduced by the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

"It is clear that the existing Safe Harbour Agreement does not offer EU citizens any protection against either the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or the Patriot Act in the US. It can no longer be considered to be a viable mechanism for cross-border data flows from the EU to the US."