European Commission - Press Release - European Commission Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda Digital Agenda Priorities Giving a boost to the EU-US relations in the field of ICT – American Chamber...
Neelie Kroes: Digital Agenda Priority speech
....."And last but not least, I have to talk about data and privacy.
Our understanding of privacy is fundamentally changing in the digital age. The rules we have for guarding it have to change too.
That motivation applies to many situations – even those that might seem different on the surface. From the EU’s reform efforts, to the Obama charter supporting a Do Not Track standard, to your Patriot Act, and now the allegations regarding the PRISM programme.
This is a hot topic. Whether privacy is necessary, or possible, and what role policy should play.
I get frustrated when privacy is seen merely as an irritant. Like most Europeans, I see privacy as a fundamental right. And it is set out as such in law.
In my view this leads to a range of policy needs and business opportunities.
First, the US, as a trusted partner needs to be more transparent with Europeans about what has been going on; and it should allow American companies to be more transparent with their customers and potential customers.
If the US government doesn’t choose this course, it will undermine trust in new digital services, with the risk that users will abandon them or never join the digital ranks.
Personally I don't like the idea of data localisation – the idea that data has to be stored where it is gathered. Because then we would miss out on the huge opportunities of a borderless network.
But let’s not be naïve. The PRISM debate will definitely increase calls for a European cloud, with a range of possible consequences for American companies. And PRISM also highlights a golden opportunity for people to make a huge privacy-focussed company. It highlights that being strong on privacy can be a competitive advantage, a great business move, and I welcome that.
Whatever the market developments might be, from a policy perspective, I want Europe to be seen as the safest corner of the internet and for entrepreneurs to be able to build businesses off the back of that.
That is why we have a EU Cloud Computing Strategy, now reinforced by an EU Cybersecurity Strategy. Because we need clear, transparent rules, clear, transparent safeguards, and a clear, transparent legal framework.
I would prefer if that framework were global, but as a minimum we want people to be confident that their data is secure across the EU.
So my message is that we take both trust and security seriously at the EU, and I hope US governments and companies respect that."