Privacy groups push for strongest European data protection law possible

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People in Europe and the U.S. were unaware of how much data the U.S. intelligence community was collecting and how much assistance U.S. tech companies were providing for that surveillance, the groups said.

“Congress has so far failed to take necessary steps to update U.S. privacy law or to rein in” those surveillance activities, they wrote.

“As a consequence, consumers on both sides of the Atlantic remain at risk – our most sensitive data is too readily available for scrutiny and misuse.”

The groups were also critical of U.S. privacy initiatives, including multi-stakeholder efforts and self-regulation programs. These initiatives — such as voluntary programs to let users opt out of online tracking— are often cited as one solution to addressing privacy concerns in lieu of legislation.

“The multi-stakeholder process has not produced meaningful outcomes. Self-regulation is not working,” they wrote.

The groups said they “remain optimistic that we will eventually update privacy laws in the United States and address the concerns of U.S. consumers.”

Until that happens, “it is clear that the European Union offers the best prospect for the protection of Internet users around the globe,” the groups said.