Privacy groups request meeting with U.S. officials on backlash against European privacy rules

During recent meetings in Brussels, European Parliament members and staff “reported that both the U.S. government and U.S. industry are mounting an unprecedented lobbying campaign to limit the protections that European law would provide,” the groups write.

ADVERTISEMENT
They called on the administration officials to communicate the views of American consumers and privacy advocates when meeting with governments abroad — not just the interests of industry.

"We expect leadership from those who represent the United States overseas and we expect that the views of American consumers and privacy advocates, not simply business leaders, will be conveyed to your counterparts," the letter reads.

The letter was sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and William Kennard, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

The privacy groups said their meetings with European officials also illustrated that the EU shares many of same concerns about privacy protections as their American counterparts. For example, EU officials said they were concerned about “the absence of safeguards for personal data stored in the cloud.”

In the letter, the privacy advocates argued that both the U.S. and Europe need to update their privacy laws. They urged the U.S. officials to push for the implementation of the president’s privacy bill of rights and reform of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

“Enactment of robust privacy legislation in the United States should be a top priority for the administration. As the President explained last year, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is ‘a blueprint for privacy in the information age. ... My administration will work to advance these principles and work with Congress to put them into law,’ ” the groups write. “And the US should not stand in the way of Europe’s efforts to strengthen and modernize its legal framework.”

The letter was signed by more than a dozen privacy advocates, including the Center for Digital Democracy, American Civil Liberties Union and Consumer Federation of America.

Last month the groups urged the EU to forge ahead with its proposed data privacy rules despite the pushback it received from the U.S. government and American tech companies.