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The EU-US Umbrella Agreement and the Judicial Redress Act: Small Steps Forward for EU Citizens’ Privacy Rights

One of the European Commission’s responses to the Snowden revelations was the swift adoption of the ‘EU-US Umbrella Agreement’. The objective of the Commission is to put in place a high level of data protection when personal information is transferred between the US and an EU country for the purpose of investigating, detecting, or prosecuting a crime. It was recently initialed by EU and US negotiators, pending US Congress adoption of the Judicial Redress Act. We view these developments as limited, but not insignificant improvements on the privacy rights of EU citizens.

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CJEU General Advocate Opinion in Schrems Case A Wake-Up Call

“The EU should suspend the ‘Safe Harbor’ agreement with the US.” This is one of the conclusions of the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU, in his 23 September opinion on the ‘Schrems case’, and the one that has drawn the most headlines. However, the reality is that if the CJEU were to follow the AG’s guidance and strike down the Safe Harbour Agreement, it would do little.

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EU Negotiators Agree on Net Neutrality Rules

Today, negotiators from the European Parliament, Member State governments, and the Commission reached a deal on net neutrality in the Telecommunications Single Market (TSM) Regulation. The final result is necessarily and visibly a compromise between very disparate views. The final text is still being tidied up, but based on the information published by the European Commission, we have a few initial observations.

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Can a Quantitative Approach Help Address Government Surveillance?

When legislators and governments introduce new national security measures, they often do so in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events. This means new surveillance tools are adopted hastily. A research programme seeks to develop a comprehensive methodology to assess surveillance technology in light of its effectiveness in enhancing security, balanced against its impact on fundamentals to data protection, privacy and free expression.

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Controversial French Surveillance Regulation Should Re-Ignite EU Debate on Surveillance Reform

France is moving ahead with new legislation to enable expanded electronic surveillance. As expected, the surveillance bill, the Projet de Loi Relatif au Renseignement, was passed by Members of the French National Assembly. A wide range of French civil society groups, lawyers, and technology industry groups have voiced strong opposition to the bill from its inception. Indeed, the bill is so excessive that we believe it could, and should, lead to a renewed debate on surveillance reform across Europe.

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A Mixed Review for Europe's Digital Single Market Strategy

Today, the European Commission published its much-anticipated Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy. The result is a mixed bag of good and bad ideas. The most controversial and problematic elements of the strategy focus on enhanced obligations that websites and other Internet intermediaries should have for dealing with unlawful third-party content and what regulations should apply to a subset of those intermediaries deemed “internet platforms.”

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Responses to Charlie Hebdo Attack: Governments Should Protect, Not Limit, Free Expression

The horrific terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris has shaken the European continent profoundly. The tragedy lays bare controversial and divisive questions regarding free expression and efforts to prevent terrorism and violence motivated by political and religious extremism. European leaders have been quick to announce heightened security responses. However, caution is needed to ensure that any new security measures are proportionate, that they strengthen and advance the free expression rights of all, and that they avoid creating a chilling effect from surveillance.

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Ministers Should Not Confuse Platform Neutrality with Net Neutrality

Ministers from France and Germany wrote to European Commission Vice President Ansip, who is in charge of Digital Single Market, calling for the Commission to prepare legislation for “essential platforms.” We encourage Ministers in EU Member States to distinguish between net neutrality and platform neutrality, and to maintain their focus on the adoption of a regulation with strong protections for the open Internet.

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Law Enforcement Without Borders

A critical case is now working its way through the US courts—one that raises important questions for users and providers of cloud services in both the US and Europe. As part of a US criminal investigation, a US federal court has ordered Microsoft to hand over a customer’s files that the company holds in its Ireland data centre. CDT believes that in the law enforcement context, the best way to accommodate the interests of both governments is through the process established under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs).

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