emptywheel_02

Europe Gets Impatient for Yahoo Answers

As I’ve noted, James Clapper’s office has been irresponsibly silent about what kind of scan FBI asked Yahoo to subject all of its email users to in 2015. And those in Congress who haven’t been briefed on it are demanding information.

But they’re not the only ones. Europe is too (as Yahoo seemed all too aware when it wrote Clapper asking him to clarify the scan).

And they’ve got a bit more leverage over the Intelligence Community than non-intelligence committee members of Congress do, because the EU prohibits data collected in Europe from being used for mass surveillance.

Dutch MEP Sophia In t’Veld asked the European Commission questions but has thus far gotten no answer.

Yahoo has allegedly scanned customer emails for US intelligence purposes at the request of US intelligence agencies. According to reports, in 2015 Yahoo secretly built a custom software program allowing it to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information requested by US intelligence officials. In the Schrems judgment, the Safe Harbour programme allowing EU personal data to be transferred to the US was declared invalid, among other reasons because of the mass surveillance protocols used by US intelligence services.

Will the Commission investigate these reports and ask clarification from the US administration?

Was the Commission aware of these alleged activities by Yahoo at the time it adopted the Privacy Shield decision? If not, do these revelations prompt the Commission to reconsider its decision on Privacy Shield?

Does the Commission consider Yahoo to have violated the terms of Safe Harbour, does the Commission consider that these practices would be allowed under Privacy Shield, and how will the Commission verify that violations in this regard do not take place?

And the Article 29 Working Party — the data protection authorities — last week asked Yahoo directly.

In addition, the WP29 was also informed that Yahoo has scanned customer emails for US
intelligence purposes at the request of US intelligence agencies. According to reports, in
2015 Yahoo searched all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information
requested by US intelligence officials.

The reports are concerning to WP29 and it will be important to understand the legal
basis and justification for any such surveillance activity, including an explanation of how
this is compatible with EU law and protection for EU citizens.

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. bevin says:

    The tensions in the relationships between Europe and the US-still hellbent on establishing hegemony and regarding Europe as an auxiliary to be seen and not heard- are growing and the arrogance of the Security Services (including European cronies) is causing real difficulties likely to erupt in the future.

    In a geopolitical competition between the marine power of the USA (inherited from the British Empire) and the Eurasian land power, Europe is of enormous importance. China woos it with capital and and offers of peaceful development and partnership. The US assumes, in large part because it is racist, that Europe will always choose subservience in the Atlantic Alliance to equal partnerships and multipolarity.

  2. rugger9 says:

    There are good points and bad points here. I’ll start with the bad one first: “…because it is racist, …” assumes facts not in evidence. While some in the USA are (such as many but not all Trump supporters) not all of us are and I’m kind of tired of the wide and indiscriminate tarring of everyone including the members of this board. Please be specific about who is and who is not “racist”. A minor quibble would be the missed observation of manufacturing capacity and skill (and some resources) also in play in Europe.

    On the good points side, however, bevin does present astute observations about how China goes about building the relationships (leaving out what happens later, see: Africa), and I think the comment about arrogance could be valid. Keep in mind that the USA kept Europe free from being conquered twice by the Germans, as well as holding the line against the Soviets for decades while Europe rebuilt itself after WWII. What Trump taps into here is the sense that the EU doesn’t feel the appropriate gratitude for the time, effort, money and the lives of our soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines that the USA has shoveled in to help them recover and stay free to argue about stuff. Hence, the assumption correctly noted by bevin.

    Pax Americana would only last as long as took for the Europeans to find their voices in their democracies (which we installed) and only a knucklehead would assume they would unquestioningly fall into line. It’s a bit like having (in this case already grown and opinionated) kids as they go out on their own path.

    So, at what point would we cut out of NATO? The short answer for me is when there is no further threat from the Soviets by whatever name they are called these days. Putin is an unreconstructed KGB man, so now is NOT the time. When he falls (and that could be tomorrow or decades from now) the government that follows may make it more likely that Russia joins some variant of the EU.

    • Carl Weetabix says:

      I certainly see racism in the language when people I know support Trump. I don’t know a ton of supporters, so I certainly wouldn’t say it’s all supporters, but seems more than average.

      Still, I think Trump like Sanders is more of a protest vote, in that both sides (rightly) see the middle class getting screwed. We just disagree as to why (though even there, we have more commonality than one tends to give credit).

      This is part of why I don’t hold Trump supporters more liable – we’re all just trying to figure it out and a lot of extra baggage comes with people choosing one side or the other. It doesn’t necessarily define them, even if it is hard to watch. Granted I’m not Mexican, Muslim, a woman, or black so my back maybe doesn’t go up as far as it should ideally.

  3. seedeevee says:

    “Keep in mind that the USA kept Europe free from being conquered twice by the Germans, as well as holding the line against the Soviets for decades while Europe rebuilt itself after WWII.”

    Talk about “facts not in evidence” . . . .

      • seedeevee says:

        Maybe you should do your troll hunting in Scandinavia somewhere.

        Show me where your previous comments mentioned anything resembling “tip the balance in both WWs” and not a glaucoma’d version of USA USA USA.

        Russia.

        That is the only nation who definitely changed both of those wars.

        30 million Dead Russians would laugh at your insularity if they could.

Comments are closed.