'This is a Joke': Snowden, Others Slam New EU-US Data Sharing Deal

The European Commission on Tuesday touted a new deal that will continue to allow tech companies such as Google and Facebook to share user data overseas based on a promise from U.S. intelligence officials that EU citizens will not be subject to indiscriminate mass surveillance, in a move that critics said “sells out EU fundamental rights.”

“This is just a joke,” tweeted Jan Philipp Albrecht, European Parliament member and Green home affairs spokesperson, after the agreement was announced.

The new deal replaces the so-called Safe Harbor agreement that the European Court of Justice struck down in October after documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed PRISM and other mass surveillance programs. Those revelations, the Court said, underscored just how weak user data protections are under U.S. law.

The EU’s current data protection rules forbid personal data, like social media posts or financial information, from being moved to outside jurisdictions without adequate privacy protections.

“With billions of dollars of business potentially at stake,” the New York Times reports, and more than 4,000 companies likely to be impacted, the deal’s proponents herald it as a “privacy shield”—a claim Snowden personally rebuked on Tuesday:

Under the new deal, which was announced two days after negotiators missed a key deadline set by EU regulators, the U.S. agreed to provide annual written assurances from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence “ruling out indiscriminate mass surveillance on data transferred under the new arrangement,” Politico Europe reports.

However, in a press statement on Tuesday, Albrecht remarked on the inadequacy of that provision.