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Privacy Businesses EU

Angela Merkel Tells US Firms To Meet German Privacy Rules 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-as-we-say-and-as-we-do dept.
judgecorp writes "Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has given her backing to proposed European privacy regulations and demanded that U.S. firms should meet German privacy rules. Merkel's stance comes as U.S. firms lobby against strict E.U. privacy proposals — but also follows revelations from Edward Snowden through German newspaper Der Spiegel, that the German authorities are helping the NSA spy on German citizens."
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Angela Merkel Tells US Firms To Meet German Privacy Rules

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  • by Chirs (87576) on Monday July 15, 2013 @02:36PM (#44288065)

    My reading on that is that *if* the new European Commission data privacy rules get passed, then Germany would expect US firms to abide by those rules *for citizens of the EU*. Seems quite reasonable, actually.

    Basically it's just an extension of the fact that those same US firms already have to comply with existing privacy rules in various countries around the world. (I seem to recall Google having to blur faces and license plates when it launched Street View in Canada...)

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      My reading on that is that *if* the new European Commission data privacy rules get passed, then Germany would expect US firms to abide by those rules *for citizens of the EU*. Seems quite reasonable, actually.

      Isn't it? But it is difficult to understand for Americans.
      Here in US, when companies are blatantly violating the law, they are retroactively shielded by Congress, instead of being punished and forced into compliance.

      • US companies are expected to follow the laws of the country they work in. So if they work in the US, even with data from the EU, they are expected to offload anything to any government organisation without asking questions. "for citizens of the EU" is meaningless. Data is data. People are just resources.
    • by phayes (202222) on Monday July 15, 2013 @03:24PM (#44288707) Homepage

      What I'd really like to know is whether Merkel's rule only apply to US corporations. In other words, will France's DGSE's collection of the same information as that the USG is collecting through US Corporations get a free pass? From the info I can find, it seems so...

      • That's a more internal issue. Besides, how many people outside of France use french services?

        • by phayes (202222)

          Given the geographical position that France is in, much of the transatlantic traffic passes through France & thus is snooped by the DGSE, so no I don't think that this is merely an internal French issue. It's hard to be hypocritical in condemning US behaviour, but purposefully ignoring French acts helps.

        • I like French Fries.

      • by icebike (68054)

        What I'd really like to know is whether Merkel's rule only apply to US corporations. In other words, will France's DGSE's collection of the same information as that the USG is collecting through US Corporations get a free pass? From the info I can find, it seems so...

        Chances are that Germany has spy programs every bit as intrusive as the US does, and that every German telcom and data retention company is every bit as "backdoored" to agencies of the German Government just as the are in the US.

        It was only 5 days ago that Merkel was justifying [ndtv.com] not only her own government's spying, but also the NSA spying.

        To now expect the US firms to adhear to a level of privacy that firms in her own country flaunt is simply playing to the masses. She will sell them out behind the scenes

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Monday July 15, 2013 @05:59PM (#44290161) Homepage

        Yes, the DGSE has to comply with German rules when dealing with German citizens. It has to comply with EU rules when dealing with everything, even non-EU citizens. Unlike the US we don't have this concept of rights only applying to our own citizens, they apply to everyone.

        • by phayes (202222)

          Well then it's funny that the DGSE's data vacuuming doesn't make those distinctions without everybody making a big stink about it isn't it? Ahhh, but it's only a problem when the US does it, right?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      My reading on that is that *if* the new European Commission data privacy rules get passed, then Germany would expect US firms to abide by those rules *for citizens of the EU*. Seems quite reasonable, actually.

      Why does it seem reasonable for Germany to decide how firms in the US behave? Why is it not the responsibility of citizens of the EU to decide whether they will do business with firms in the US or not? If there are firms in the EU which are leaking customer information to firms in the US who don't respect the laws they are required to follow, then sue the leakers. If people in the EU choose to do business with firms in the US, why shouldn't they be subject to the laws of the US?

      Don't get me wrong, I am comp

      • by JanneM (7445) on Monday July 15, 2013 @05:21PM (#44289851) Homepage

        But these US companies do business in the EU. If, say, Google really truly only existed in the US it'd be one thing, but they do not. They make a good deal of their income from advertising and services in the EU; have facilities, offices and data centers there; most have daughter companies in the area.

        Put it this way: EU car makers must follow US safety standards for the vehicles they export to the US, right? Even though they don't actually make them there, or have the head office there or anything. So, if you're an online business and solicit users and income in the EU it's jsut as reasonable that you have to follow local laws for that business as well.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          They make a good deal of their income from advertising and services in the EU; have facilities, offices and data centers there; most have daughter companies in the area.

          If those facilities, offices, and data centers are owned by the American company, then perhaps Germany should be looking into laws which permit that instead of trying to make other nations' corporations behave by their laws. You can't even _do_ that in China, you have to partner with a Chinese firm to even have that kind of presence there. If Germany wants that level of control, perhaps they should institute it.

          There's no inherent need to permit a foreign corporation to own land and an effective business; f

    • They only had to blur the faces you see on the pages. Behind the curtain an entirely different scene is taking place. The originals are handed over to the authorities. You don't think that they would pass by such a great opportunity to collect some intelligence, do you?

  • Now THIS is funny! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday July 15, 2013 @02:41PM (#44288133)

    The same government that brought us the "Bundestrojaner" (a trojan to be employed by law enforcement), that did pretty much anything to create Stasi 2.0 is now complaining about someone else doing it to them.

    Mrs. Merkel, meet Mr. Kettle.

    • We are complying with GFR privacy rules and more, by directly spying on your citizens and ours, so you don't have to do it for us.

      Sincerely, Redacted.

    • Mrs. Merkel, meet Mr. Kettle.

      You mean she's just finding out who she's been sleeping with all this time?

      • Please, take a look at her and then reconsider your statement.

        You, sir, just gave me the worst nightmare one could get. Thanks a lot...

    • The same government that brought us the "Bundestrojaner" (a trojan to be employed by law enforcement)

      German cops wear a condom when the fuck you over?

  • It's only fair (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If American laws apply in the EU, then EU laws should apply in the US.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      American laws apply in the EU? If that were true, the PirateBay would've been gone a long time ago.
  • by metrix007 (200091) on Monday July 15, 2013 @03:01PM (#44288383)

    They can only do this while the US company has some sort of presence in Europe.

    As internet speeds increase, the need for a physical presence will disappear.

    Good luck getting Google or Facebook to comply if all their datacenters and business locations are only in the US.

    Europeans will still want to use the services, so that will be interesting.

    • by grmoc (57943)

      Thusfar, as far as I know, the speed of light has remained about the same...

    • by trampel (464001)

      Keep in mind that to Google and Facebook, each user is a product, not a customer.

      They do have business presences in most European countries to interact with their real customers, i.e. advertisers. It sounds reasonable to expect them to adhere to local laws in countries that they do business in.

      • Mmm, really? Arab countries famously have laws prohibiting Israeli content in products. The US has laws outlawing such (http://www.bis.doc.gov/complianceandenforcement/antiboycottcompliance.htmt).

        The problem is that you can't get countries to agree to have compatible laws, and the internet presence of a company is effectively in one place. If the rules are different from locale to locale, users will tend to gravitate to one particular locale that is most attractive (for whatever reason). Insisting on en

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Having the US to blame for everything helps pull the continent together. I'd like to see Europe cut itself off from Google, Apple. Ebay, et.al. It would be entertaining.

          You've got that backwards.

          It's not up to the EU to cut off Google, Ebay, et al. It's up to Google, Ebay, et al. to cut themselves off from Europe.

          Apple is different, Apple has a lot of property in Europe the EU can seize for non compliance, then it becomes the case above.

          Europeans can continue to use Google, Ebay and even Itunes as long as Google, Ebay and Apple permit access. The EU cant change that, what the EU can do is:
          1) seize any property belonging to the company in Europe, this includes Ima

      • by metrix007 (200091)

        Yeah, that's pretty much nonsense. It sure sounds slick to say, but it's still nonsense.

        Any individual is not a product, they are the customer, because advertising is sold to them.

        A large collection of users as a whole may be a product for advertisers. That is not the same as each user being a product.

    • by phayes (202222) on Monday July 15, 2013 @03:29PM (#44288757) Homepage

      When Facebook/Google sells to local businesses in Europe, it does not matter that f/g is entirely off shored as they need
      Ely block the money. For an example of how off shored businesses can be brought to heel, see the gambling sites the USG has been blocking.

    • It's not about the hardware, it's about collecting payments from people in Europe, and you'd better believe governments can restrict that.

    • by TheSync (5291) on Monday July 15, 2013 @04:12PM (#44289225) Journal

      I was recently at an IT conference in Geneva.

      A speaker from a large company there warned those attending (mainly from Europe) to avoid US cloud companies because of NSA spying. Not just US-based servers, but also any company with SUPPORT STAFF located in the US as well, even if the servers are located outside of the US.

      Reason 1 is the risk of private company information flowing to competitors through the NSA either officially or through corruption.

      Reason 2 is the legal risk of falling afoul of EU privacy laws by hosting in the US or with US support staff.

      That's the report from Europe folks. You can call it FUD, but it is there nonetheless.

      • Reason #2 "problems with EU privacy laws" is actually quite real. While the law itself is toothless (regarding the possible sanctions), it would disturb me as an IT manager or sales manager to just use a great service like Salesforce.com and to have migrated all my data there and trained mys stuff - just to learn that I was convicted to adhere to privacy laws in the EU and that any US based company cannot comply (because of US laws) and are now obliged to change everything. Too much of a hassle; I would s

    • This is no different than doing business with any foreign entity. If you buy physical product from some offshore supplier, local business & warranty laws don't apply to them.

      If you're dealing in data with a foreign entity, that entity is not bound to your local data laws. The only difference is that now in the "information age" regular home users are exposed to the risks involved.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      Good luck getting Google or Facebook to comply if all their datacenters and business locations are only in the US.

      And good luck to Google or Facebook trying to withdraw their euro payments from EU banks.

      Sure, US companies can scoff EU law, but they won't make any money by doing so.

    • by JanneM (7445)

      You still want to get paid for advertisements, services and so on don't you? Anything like that is having a presence in the country.

      • by metrix007 (200091)

        No, not necessarily. They could do payments through something like bitcoin or paypal. Then paypal has to comply, but not google or facebook.

    • by Tom (822) on Monday July 15, 2013 @05:52PM (#44290109) Homepage Journal

      Bullshit.

      Multinational corporations will always have a presence in Europe. Google maintains several offices throughout Germany. If you want to do business in a country on the scale the giants do, you need a local subsidary.

      I see this again and again and again in every stupid fucking article about some European country not bowing down to US corporate interests. It's always the same moronic argument that basically boils down to "we powerful US corporations can do what we want, if Europe doesn't like it, we can pull out of there and then they'll be sorry".

      The real world disagrees. Google pulling out of Europe would mean a bit of an inconvenience for Europe, and a dramatically damaged Google. I would go so far and claim that it's a move that could potentially destroy them. Or any other Internet giant.

      What would happen to Europe if we lost Google, or Facebook? There'd be a lot of whining, and someone would step up to fill the gap before you can finish writing your blog post about the whining I mentioned, and after a short while, Googles or Facebooks would have powerful competition with a strong base in Europe and pressing on them in their other markets.

      Seriously, idiots on /. are the only people seriously suggesting such a suicide move. The real players would rather pump a few millions into lobby work.

      • by metrix007 (200091)

        I'm not saying that big US based multinationals don't have to bow down to Europe, they do. They have to abide by the laws of any country they are in.

        I'm saying eventually internet speed will be so fast and the internet economy will change to a point where they won't need to have a physical presence in every country. They can limit their physical presence to where the laws suit them best.

        I mean really, the majority of Google's offerings are delivered through a browser. If you look at the reasons they need a

        • by Tom (822)

          I'm saying eventually internet speed will be so fast and the internet economy will change to a point where they won't need to have a physical presence in every country. They can limit their physical presence to where the laws suit them best.

          You have two assumptions in there that are wrong.

          One, that physical presence matters for legal questions. It doesn't.
          Two, that technical details determine where a corporation has a physical presence. They don't.

          I can only repeat my example again. Google does not, to the best of my knowledge, have any servers in Germany. It does, however, have several offices and a german subsidary - for marketing purposes. Because your big customers want you to come to their office to sign that big deal.

          • by metrix007 (200091)

            I recall a story about Facebook having to comply with Germany's privacy laws, and only really being forced to do so because they had an office in Hamburg. If they had not had a presence in Germany, they could not have been forced to comply, so yes, a physical presence does seem to matter for legal question.

            I disagree that technical details do not play a part in whether a company has a physical presence in a country or continent. Do you really expect companies like Google or Facebook to have all their server

            • by Tom (822)

              I recall a story about Facebook having to comply with Germany's privacy laws, and only really being forced to do so because they had an office in Hamburg. If they had not had a presence in Germany, they could not have been forced to comply, so yes, a physical presence does seem to matter for legal question.

              The Facebook office here in Hamburg (yes, I live there) is a pure marketing office. It contains no part of the Facebook infrastructure.

              What you are probably mixing up is that because Facebook has a german subsidary, that company would be served with any legal proceedings.

              Legal steps against a foreign corporation are more complicated and tricky, but entirely possible, especially within the EU. So withdrawing from Germany (or any other EU country) alone would buy you a little bit of administrative overhead an

  • The more pressure the US gets from all angles on these types of issues, the better.
  • Weren't there lawsuits filed against Google and Yahoo! in the USA and EU for them turning over data on Chinese dissidents to China's Government. Yes, China's Government may be abusive, but it was required under Chinese law. Why is it important for Google to adhere to Germany's laws but not to China's laws? If Germany's privacy laws require Google to do things that violate America's FISA laws, who's to say who has primacy? If anything, the fact that the majority of Google's servers are in America probably me
  • Sadly this is necessary.

    N.B. Many in Germany know and feel a social responsibility for the abuses that can come from those making lists. Others should take a lesson.....

    The world should pay attention.

  • Whatever you import from wherever needs to comply with some local regulation.
    From ham to cars, from iPhone warranty to software EULAs.
    This article looks more like flame bait than actual news!

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