18 Jun 2013

Open Season for Data Fishing on the Web: The Challenges of the US PRISM Programme for the EU

Didier Bigo / Gertjan Boulet / Caspar Bowden / Sergio Carrera / Elspeth Guild / Nicholas Hernanz / Paul De Hert / Julien Jeandesboz / Amandine Scherrer

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The revelation of the top-secret US intelligence-led PRISM Programme has triggered wide-ranging debates across Europe. Press reports have shed new light on the electronic surveillance ‘fishing expeditions’ of the US National Security Agency and the FBI into the world’s largest electronic communications companies. This Policy Brief by a team of legal specialists and political scientists addresses the main controversies raised by the PRISM affair and the policy challenges that it poses for the EU. Two main arguments are presented: First, the leaks over the PRISM programme have undermined the trust that EU citizens have in their governments and the European institutions to safeguard and protect their privacy; and second, the PRISM affair raises questions regarding the capacity of EU institutions to draw lessons from the past and to protect the data of its citizens and residents in the context of transatlantic relations. The Policy Brief puts forward a set of policy recommendations for the EU to follow and implement a robust data protection strategy in response to the affair.