US spying on Europeans will be expanded if the Transatlantic Trade deal gives a free pass to PRISM's enablers, writes Jeff Chester, and urges the EU not to allow the privacy of its citizens to be negotiated away. The giant US-based technology companies alleged to have helped the National Security Agency (NSA) digitally eavesdrop on the public through its PRISM program, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and AOL have positioned themselves as largely helpless in opposing the release of their user data for national security purposes. These massive data gathers are not victims, however. American Internet advertising and technology companies are the architects of a digital media system that continually expands in its ability to stealthily gather, analyze, and make actionable our information. They know what we do online and offline, where we are and the places we go, what we buy, our health and medical concerns, who are our friends and social connections are, and much more. Through their growing use of geo-location technologies, the overall activities of our neighborhoods and communities are also increasingly placed under their digital lens as well. They have purposely developed a system of commercial surveillance on individuals that is unprecedented. Steal industry: Steeling other peoples' data has become one of America's few growth industries. US digital marketing companies are the global leaders in shaping a world where the continuous collection
and use of our personal information are purposefully embedded in our technologies and harvested to help shape our daily experiences. Google, Facebook, and the others may claim to be hamstrung regarding NSA demands for our digital profiles, but they are also clamoring for the Obama Administration to help them expand without restraint the data they can collect from EU citizens. They
now seek a bevy of favorable policies on e-commerce, trans-border data flows, and data protection as an outcome of the recently launched Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade negotiations. US tech companies want the TTIP to sanction as bypassing of the EU's data protection rules. They also want it to undo EU policy requiring local oversight or control over data processing practices. In a letter sent to the new US Trade Representative in June by the Internet Association, a lobbying group that includes Yahoo, AOL, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and many others, they laid out their goal: "the creation of a single global digital information marketplace," with no "impediments" or "offline barriers," transporting EU information anywhere their cloud can process it.
Europeans should reject this self-serving vision of a border-less digital world, where legal frameworks protecting civil liberties and the distinctions of country and culture are tossed aside in the name of increased profits for US-based transnational data marketers. Their claims that there's a "robust US approach to privacy" equivalent to the more effective EU data protection framework is nothing more than a digital fairy tale. Not only is there no national data protection law in the US, but regulatory enforcement protecting consumer privacy by our Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is feeble.