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It’s time to extend the US Privacy Act to EU citizens (googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.com)
127 points by howlden on Nov 13, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 101 comments



In general, whenever it comes to human rights - or civil rights as Americans like to call it - it's appalling that they distinguish between citizens and foreigners (or aliens as they label us).

Imagine European countries denying human rights to non citizens: Okay to torture a Somali? No problem throwing Americans in prison without trial? Sure, let's wiretap cell phones of all Turks in Europe? I don't think so.


> Sure, let's wiretap cell phones of all Turks in Europe? I don't think so.

Wait, Germany was actually shown to be engaging in surveillance of Turkish telecommunications... for 38 years.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/23/us-germany-turkey-...

And while you may argue that they're only targeting diplomats, policy makers, etc., NSA makes the same argument: they have to collect a lot to make it even possible to surveil the far smaller set that they target.

Furthermore, German politicians expressly talk about the need for intelligence on human traffickers, drug smugglers and terrorists as a justification to spy on Turkey. How does BND manage to spy on just the bad guys without getting the rest of the law abiding Turkish citizens in their dragnet?

So no offense but leave off with this faux moral superiority, as EU states certainly differentiate in their treatment between citizens and aliens for many "rights" that the state provides, just as the U.S. does. Just ask the Romanian immigrant to the U.K. that lost her 'welfare tourism' case in a recent final ruling in the ECJ.


"Just ask the Romanian immigrant to the U.K. that lost her 'welfare tourism' case in a recent final ruling in the ECJ."

That was actually a case from Germany, not the UK

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30011512

However, I agree with your broader point that there is hypocrisy from all sides in this debate.


Thanks. I wish I'd remembered that from when I read the article yesterday as in many ways it even over-emphasizes the point I was making.


The article doesn't seem to mention the methods the BND uses to target Turkey. It could be that they target specific individuals of the Turkish government instead of storing and analyzing everything that goes in and out of Turkey.

As for the question of Turkey being a valid target, let me remind you that several people in the Turkish government were planning a false flag operation in order to invade Syria.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/world/europe/high-level-le...


> It could be that they target specific individuals of the Turkish government instead of storing and analyzing everything that goes in and out of Turkey.

Maybe. But how do they do that? Do they individually hack into routers only when and where needed to keep up with their targets? What do they do when the packets used by their targets hop to a different router? What do they do when their target uses a mobile over 4G instead of their PC and Ethernet? What do they do when the data packets emitted by the target's mobile are transferred as a batch with a bunch of people not relevant to the intelligence need?

Maybe they do filter first and only store information relevant to their specific targeted intelligence needs. If NSA limited themselves to that, would your concerns go away?

> As for the question of Turkey being a valid target, let me remind you that several people in the Turkish government were planning a false flag operation in order to invade Syria.

You're preaching to the choir here. But let me remind you, that on Sept. 11, 2001, several people in the al Qa'ida organization actually carried out a real operation that resulted in ~3,000 deaths directly (not all American either), the destruction of a significant amount of property, and the launch of the "global war on terror" and invasion of Afghanistan. Even more, it set the conditions politically in the U.S. for the later invasion of Iraq. Truly, the consequences were quite epochal.

Yet many opponents of NSA surveillance will tell you quite bluntly that even counter-terrorism is not an important enough concern to make surveillance on the Internet worth the cost to civil liberties. They'll even tell you that more people die of car accidents every year than died in 9/11. What would you say to them? Why is it OK to target Turkey to detect covert false flag attacks but not OK to target transnational terrorist organizations that are actually killing people every single day, and plotting further attacks?


> European countries [...]

To which European countries are you referring? The ones that imposed the Dublin treate[1] which effectively turned Greece and Italy into an huge refugee camp overnight? These countries to give a damn about aliens too.

Those Iraqi, Iranian, Pakistani (soon Syrians to be expected en masse) refugees do not risk their lives to come to Greece. They want to go to Germany, Sweden, France, the UK etc. But since Greece's PM (Kostas Simitis[2]) signed that treaty, Greece is forced to make front on the huge number of refugees arriving from wars that NATO (mostly UK and US) make directly or indirectly (see Syria) in the middle east without any financial or other kind of help from the EU, because of this treaty...

As a result, in Greece we have more than 2+ millions refugees. The government has run a disgraceful program (ironically named "Xenios Dias" - loosely translated as Foreigner Zeus, linked to the ancient Greek belief that foreigners should be protected by Zeusm thus sheltering a stranger was some kind of obligation), which in practice means take all refugees are taken away and put on guarded jails until they die out of something[3]. The rise of the Nazi party in Greece, which has close ties with the current government on so many levels, is partly because of the Dublin Treaty and the incapability of Greece to handle the situation.

Anyway, sorry for the rant...

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin_Regulation#Criticism

[2] Konstantinos Simitis is considered along G. Papandreou and current PM the most hated PMs in Greece's recent history (after 1974). He was the PM when Greece along with Godlman Sachs falsified the Greek statistics in order for Greece to enter Euro, which led to it's current situation along with other strings of scandals.

[3] http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=424639 (Greek article but take a look at the picture).


That's interesting. Genuinely. Part of the public dialog about refugees in the UK is that we wonder why we get so many. I'm not sure of the numbers and I would be surprised if they are anywhere near as high as those in Greece but...

The reasoning goes that if these people are genuinely in fear of their lives, if they're running away from somewhere, why are they not claiming asylum in the first peaceful, developed country they arrive at?

There are slum-like camps in some parts of northern France that are full of people trying to find a way to smuggle themselves over the sea to the UK. This makes little sense to me, unless they are really economic migrants, not refugees at all.

Perhaps we should have some sort of europe-wide policy, where people must declare as soon as they arrive in the EU, and then each country agrees to take a quota so that the southern/eastern countries aren't swamped.


I'm glad someone found my rant interesting and I'm happy the this discussion is becoming part of the public dialog in other places as well.

> [...] if these people are genuinely in fear of their lives, if they're running away from somewhere, why are they not claiming asylum in the first peaceful, developed country they arrive at?

Sorry but that's totally unrealistic. You're making assumptions that do not hold in real life. A refugee which will seek asylum from Greek/Italian authorities will end-up 99.99% in a concentration camp. He might very well be beaten first. Police brutality in Greece is renowned.

> There are slum-like camps in some parts of northern France that are full of people trying to find a way to smuggle themselves over the sea to the UK. This makes little sense to me, unless they are really economic migrants, not refugees at all.

They just try to go, to the place which they believe will be better for them. They might have a family, or some sort of link there, or they just heard from someone that it's better in London.

> Perhaps we should have some sort of europe-wide policy, where people must declare as soon as they arrive in the EU, and then each country agrees to take a quota so that the southern/eastern countries aren't swamped.

Perhaps it should be, or (given the raise of right-wing anti-EU all over Europe[1]) maybe it's just too late. The EU was marketed as something, but clearly turned out to be something else.

[1] Marrie-Lepen in France (clearly anti-EU), Syriza (is pro-EU officially, but there is a strong left-wing anti-EU segment inside the party) in Greece, Grillo in Italy (clearly anti-EU), UKIP in the UK (clearly anti-EU), not sure about 'Podemos' policy towards EU in Spain but they can't be very positive.


>> Sorry but that's totally unrealistic. You're making assumptions that do not hold in real life. A refugee which will seek asylum from Greek/Italian authorities will end-up 99.99% in a concentration camp. He might very well be beaten first. Police brutality in Greece is renowned.

If that really is the case I can understand why they don't want to stop!

>> Perhaps it should be, or (given the raise of right-wing anti-EU all over Europe[1]) maybe it's just too late.

You might be right. There is a lot of public discussion in the UK about leaving the EU entirely. It's not just UKIP, the conservatives have promised a referendum on membership if they win next year too.

This whole area of debate is very sensitive and I think it would probably steer the debate even more towards UKIP if it were to start now. Nobody wants to actually talk sensibly about this stuff.


"The rise of the Nazi party in Greece... is partly because of the Dublin Treaty and the incapability of Greece to handle the situation."

The rest can be blamed on racism.


It's not a matter of distinguishing between citizens and foreigners on the mere basis of their being citizens and foreigners. It's a matter of distinguishing between people who have obligations under American law (people physically present on American soil or people with American citizenship) and those who do not.

Rights are the reciprocal of responsibilities.[1] American law cannot impose responsibilities on a Frenchman living and acting in France. Correspondingly, American law does not extend rights to that person.

And I can't speak to EU law, but my understanding is that Canada's law is similar to that of the U.S. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Liberties is only applicable in Canada: http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/sclr/article/view/3....

[1] Rhetoric aside, the tradition of Anglo-American law is that "rights" only bind the actions of the government to the extent that they are recognized by the social compacts that bind the nation together. Someone outside the compact cannot be bound by its rules, but nor can those within the compact be bound as to that person.


American law cannot impose responsibilities on a Frenchman living and acting in France. Correspondingly, American law does not extend rights to that person.

This is a design decision that parents have taught their children to believe is normal and sensible. It's also effective. Nothing like an "us vs them" mentality to unify a nation.

But what if some country tried to extend rights to foreigners anyway? There's nothing stopping anyone from doing so.

Does anyone know whether this has been tried before, and how the country fared? Can we look at the data? Did they fall victim to the foreigners taking advantage of the new rights? Or did they encourage a better world as a result of the reforms?

The tendency to exclude is practically ingrained into the human soul. Does it have to be that way? Are people so fundamentally wired to expolit each other that nobody can make the first gesture of acceptance without immediately being exploited?

Sadly, it's possible. But it doesn't seem like we should allow ourselves to believe that people generally aren't trustworthy unless evidence forces us to agree. Imagine living life without trusting anybody.


> But what if some country tried to extend rights to foreigners anyway?

One way that this is done today is that, for example, persecuted minorities have an easier time being granted asylum in a some countries. One specific example would be that many European countries grant LGBT refugees asylum if they flee from an oppressive country where their lives are threatened.


Slightly offtopic, but since you seem to take a small offense, or at least, use it as fuel for your argument....

Alien is simply a historical term. It is derived from the latin term alienus which means something that belongs to another. So an alien to a country represented someone who belonged to another country. There is nothing rude or egregious about that label....


As a former "alien" myself, I was never offended by this. It's a technical term.


Woooho, I´m an alien, I´m a legal alien


> In general, whenever it comes to human rights - or civil rights as Americans like to call it

Not to detract from the point you are making, but just to clarify, I would not use the terms 'human rights', 'civil rights', or 'civil liberties' as synonymous. Legally, they have very different technical meanings, but colloquially they not used interchangeably either.

A very rough distinction legally: human rights are those which are bestowed by virtue of being born. Many (though not all) of the rights listed on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[0] require no active action on the part of a government entity; rather, it would require active action not to respect those rights. Civil rights are those which are bestowed civilly, but are not inherently violated in the absence of government (or another third party).

An example of the distinction colloquially: until very recently, marriage equality activists had to be very careful not to describe gay marriage as a 'civil right' in certain contexts, because among the African American community, 'civil rights' has a very specific meaning, and using it to describe the plight of (white) LGBT individuals[1] was not always received well.

[0] http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

[1] Today we think of gay marriage as a relatively innocuous issue within the LGBT community, but it used to be quite divisive. It was seen as an initiative that affected mostly the white and wealthy members of the community, whereas issues such as LGBT homelessness affected primarily non-white members.


Many of the amendments in the Bill of Rights use the term "persons", and not "citizens". Most of the basic rights in the US Constitution are extended to all human beings, even including undocumented aliens.


Yes, but be careful when interpreting the bill of rights from a literal interpretation of the text. The actual meaning of the constitution as applied by the courts is what is legally binding (legal precedence under common law)[0], and there are numerous cases in which rights are applied differently for citizens and non-citizens.

One can make the argument that the literal text of the constitution is "what the Founding Fathers meant", but one can also easily argue that since the Constitution is a living document, the effective interpretation and application of the Constitution by the courts, bound by legal precedent, is "what the Founding Fathers meant" as well.

One can also make the argument that since judicial review as we currently know it began with Marbury vs. Madison in 1803[1], so the courts should not have this level of authority when interpreting the consitution.

But then one can make the argument that.... well, you get the idea.

This debate predates the text editor wars by a couple of centuries, so don't expect to see it resolved conclusively anytime soon! :)

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marbury_v._Madison


Imagine European countries denying human rights to non citizens:

cough European countries have a history of doing just that. Hence why they don't tend to do it anymore.


Yep the world used to be horrible and barbaric pretty much everywhere but we're talking about modern day.


It was less than 100 years ago. Which in Europe, isn't that long ago.


Not that long ago? It's longer than I've been alive. Any my parents. And my grandparents. You'd have to get to my great-grandparents before they could say they've been alive for 100 years or are able to remember anything about World War II.

In relationship to the age of the planet or the age of the species, no its not a long time. In relationship to the age of the people, it's been long enough.


As a light aside:

"The difference between the British and Americans is the British think 200 miles is a long distance and Americans think 200 years is a long time."

I've gotten a kick out of that perspective, as it seems to support some of the odd disconnects people have with times and spaces.


Works all over Europe. I was talking to American friend who moved from US Mid West to Seattle. It's a distance of ~3,200 km. From where I am in western europe, I'd have to drive to Jerusalem to have a similar distance. Even "far away" places like Moscow were 'only' 2,500km away. The sheer distances in North America are massive compared to Europe.


So the same as the U.S., then?


Problem is quite a few european countries right now don't trust american companies anymore so they are working on their own mail service, cloud, network and hardware components, ... (you know if american companies agreed with american government to spy on us they kinda deserve a nice fk off).

So who is damaged by this european behaviour? American companies. And now Google is suddenly concerned about our privacy.

Middle finger?


"if american companies agreed with american government" Just as a reminder, The government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it did not immediately cave in and comply with the secret court order. http://www.wired.com/2014/09/feds-yahoo-fine-prism/

This blog post could actually be Google's way of silently signaling us that the US gov't is still strong arming american companies, and it needs the help of public pressure in order to keep our information safe and secure.


> could actually be Google's way of silently signaling us that the US gov't is still strong arming american companies

Or it could be Googles way of looking like a good guy without actually doing anything. How you look at it depends on how much you want to trust them, or any other company that does something similar.

Personally I will never ascribe good intentions to any amoral entity. Google is going to do like every other business will do, what ever it takes to increase the bottom line.


>> "The government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it did not immediately cave in and comply with the secret court order."

Do you think that really would have happened if the CEO or a high ranking employee came out publicly and explained what was happening? There is no way the fines would have happened or anyone would have been prosecuted. Sure the USG could have done it but they would have been insane to.


Be very careful thinking that they would not have attempted to prosecute them and/or punish the company for doing so. The wonderful fun of these secret courts, that we are stuck with for the moment, is that everything the do is stuck under gag order. You have to deal with the prospect of an angry judge or prosecutor at that point, and don't discount the likelihood of them being vindictive.


> The government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day

That had to have been a bluff. There's no way to hide that kind of money from the balance sheet of a public company.


Middelvinger.

But seriously, got some more info on these European services? I don't watch these matters very closely lately, would be interested in looking into it.


I am italian, would be surprise if a member of our government is even able to switch on a computer.

But I know that in Germany (for example) this problem is a big thing http://www.zdnet.com/worried-about-your-email-security-in-ge...

http://www.bohnen-kallmorgen.com/root/index.php?page_id=123


In Germany the privacy laws are incredibly strict but fair to consumers rather than corporations.



Not a government-sponsored initiative, but:

https://mailbox.org/en/


There's the EU-funded FI-WARE cloud platform. Completely free to use for European start-ups and comes with 80 million euros in EU grants for start-ups using it. http://www.fi-ware.org/


Wait, we have a Privacy Act? I'm assuming it doesn't work, then.


And you're probably right. Is this the same 30 (?) year old Privacy Act that allows law enforcement to get our emails after 180 days without any warrant, because they are considered "abandoned"?

In the meantime, Google is trying to push everyone to archive rather than delete emails with its new Inbox client, making it once again very convenient for law enforcement to get this sort of data from us without too many obstacles.

And what's happening with that E2E plugin for Gmail? Is it still coming? What's the progress on that? Will it even work with Inbox? Because they seem to have pretty opposite goals. Maybe I wouldn't mind it too much, if I didn't know Google wants to eventually kill Gmail.com and replace it with Inbox.


It's actually very difficult to comply with, but that's a topic for a different conversation. That spreadsheet you keep of customer orders that you've mailed goods to from your personal eBay business? Definitely not Privacy Act-compliant.

Either way though as written it works well enough, the government was never going to raise privacy above the level of gaining military intelligence needed to win in World War 3, or to completely stop law enforcement investigations. Accordingly the Privacy Act would contain exemptions allowing for warrants to still work, if nothing else.

But this doesn't mean that the data, once captured by a warrant, need not be protected by privacy controls in accordance with the Privacy Act, and I think this is the argument Google is making, that the government should apply at least the same standards of data protection to data captured on foreign individuals (however it's captured) as it does to data captured on citizens. Additionally, if the government treats foreigners as if they were protected by Privacy Act it might also reduce the number of ways in which the government could compel production of evidence on those foreigners, especially data held by U.S. companies.

Privacy Act was never meant to prevent the collection of evidence for investigations, or to prevent legally-obtained evidence from being used in legal or administrative proceedings, but those are not the only protections Privacy Act gives, so applying it to aliens could well be a net gain. IANAL though, hopefully someone else can explain what exactly Google is going after here.


Google: You'd better listen to us than opposite.

Other than in UK I'm more than happy with European privacy legislation compared to US. It's imageable that we could grant Snowden asylum, but you would put him in jail for 20 years at least. There are also - afaik and except UK - no laws which enforce corporations to spy on behalf of the government without being able to stand behind these actions.

Right to forget. Would such a thing come from the US?


We in Switzerland also have our own privacy laws and we don't care much for the US ones.

There was a scandal recently with a political staff member being involved in pornos. US papers plastered her face all over while censoring any naughty parts. In the Swiss press her face was covered to protect her privacy while the rest was not covered.

Also if you are accused of a crime and are a public figure you won't have your name and face printed all over the papers because you might actually be innocent.


The US says we are innocent until proven guilty. But as soon as you are arrested that information is public. They shouldn't be able to destroy you publicly if you haven't been convicted.

We really need to fix this.


I find the situation where we grant rights to our citizens without granting them to foreigners (particularly citizens of our close allies, but also foreigners in general) bizarre and backwards. While I'm sure that there are some rights that cannot be extended to non-citizens, it seems that the default should be to treat all people independently of their country of origin unless there are strong arguments why we cannot.


Rights (as they exist today) are based in legislation. Legislation is fundamentally political. Politics is glorified tribalism.

While the people who formulate and enforce our rights are put there by geographic tribes, you won't see rights that stretch far beyond your borders. It's only when a community that is no longer geographic in nature forms tribes that we see the geographic tribes pay attention to the rights of "foreigners", and not because they're foreign, but because they're important to their own voters.


We've gone from the assertion that absolute rights are inherent in human nature and inalienable, to the post-modern world where nations supposedly grant "rights" to the populace -- and subject them to massive surveillance.

The two visions are incompatible. If you believe rights are granted by government, then you don't believe in the universality of individual rights -- which take precedence over governments and nation-states.


> I find the situation where we grant rights to our citizens without granting them to foreigners (particularly citizens of our close allies, but also foreigners in general) bizarre and backwards.

I find the idea that subjects of a foreign state have any rights not arranged by agreement between our state and theirs fundamentally bizarre. That's what states are for, in a post-Westphalian world.



Given the secrecy on this topic, the anti-democracy that was revealed by Snowden and how the US government (and other institutions) deals with this makes that sound very naive. As sad as this might make me I do not see ordinary democratic ways working anymore in the US. However I'd love to see someone proving me wrong.


>However I'd love to see someone proving me wrong.

Legalization of marijuana. The government is absolutely against it but helpless to stop it.


I have been thinking about this, but it actually seems kinda weird.

So we see a country where there is capital punishment, but it's fine to smoke weed. It feels a bit like government are more in favor of drugs than they want to pretend, not only for the good of drugs being legal, but because someone who is under influence of drugs - any kind of - is less likely to be politically active or reject orders. This has been used in military and in many authoritarian governments.

It could be even worse. It's a topic, like many others that are mostly artificial. It's not a complex topic at all. It's a good distraction from other things.

When it comes to people dying, be it the death penalty or wars then the US looks like a one-party system. Republicans tend to be for death penalty, but even Obama is according to Wikipedia.

When it comes to war politics it remains the same. Most anti war movements are killed off in many ways: controlled media, violence and arrests at demonstrations, infiltration of social networks (as outlined by Edward Snowden releases), the suicide letter to MLK, that just was on the front page, COINTELPRO, overthrowing (democratic and non-democratic) governments, ... There has been no change in more than 50 years on these.

There doesn't seem to be strong opposition to marijuna, just it gives you a bad image to start out with.


Occam's razor. People wanted to make it legal and voted that way. The mental contortions needed to support your theories are too great.


Wait, what? What theories?

I just don't think that politicians care that much about legalizing marijuana. Why would they?

And the other statement that I made is that legalizing marijuana isn't something successful politicians start out with alone. Usually that worsens there image.

Theories?

The other (unrelated) things I pointed out was that the US has a history of oppressing opposition, which is history. See the mentioned COINTELPRO. Known history.

Then I pointed out the the US overthrows governments in multiple ways. Also a well-known fact. Obama mentioned it once. The CIA released the documents on it last year. Nothing new. Known history again.

Martin Luther King Suicide Letters. That just was on HN. Official documents again. Again known history.

I am confused about where you see a theory.


>It feels a bit like government are more in favor of drugs than they want to pretend, not only for the good of drugs being legal, but because someone who is under influence of drugs - any kind of - is less likely to be politically active or reject orders. This has been used in military and in many authoritarian governments.


As for the government being more in favor than they want to pretend: I live in Europe. Here every now and then the legalization of marijuana comes up. However when a politician or a political party agrees the public opinion about that person tends to go down, because he gets that "drug junky" image that has no important topics to talk about. Happened like three or four times in the last decade. Therefor if you are a politician you don't want to look like active supporters. I guess in the US it is similar.

The second part of the statement was that it has been used in military and to calm populations. If you think that statement is bold already then you probably don't know about various projects like MK Ultra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKUltra

Oh and the effect of drugs being illegal can again be read up in history. There has been prohibition.

If I sounded like marijuana was a conspiracy I am sorry. That's not what I meant. Like I said I just think that the image of a politician who publicly states that marijuana tends to drop. I think that is because a big portion of the population doesn't have a really strong opinion on that topic, but are careful about it. That's a theory now. ;)

There also was a something on political activism of population in relation to the state of legal (or cheap/available) drugs here on HN at some point.


Sorry, but Google is probably the biggest threat to our privacy.


I couldn't agree more.

The concept of trusting what is essentially an Ad company with a penchant for spending it's profits on projects to convince the tech community it's "cool" on anything privacy related is either the greatest practical joke of the 21st century or the reason we can't have nice things.


Why in the world would Google disclose information about you to its customers when it can probably make more money by being squarely in the middle?

>> Hello, do you need to find someone who might be interested in buying Toyota cars? What's the message that you'd want plastered all over the Internet for this guy? OK, just sign this check and it will be done.


At what point did I say Google was disclosing information about me?

Every software product Google puts in the market, from web search to Gmail to Google Apps to Chrome to Android - they are all about collecting personal information, building a huge bank of data about individuals.

I don't care if they never intend to disclose that information to someone else. I care that they are actively engaged in collecting the information in the first place.

Further more - online advertising can work just fine without collecting such ridiculous amounts of information about people. Let me give you an example.

A Toyota dealer (or the marketing department of Toyota itself) buys ads from a search engine.. let's call it.. Hoogle.

I decide i want to buy a new car, so I go to my favourite search engine... Hoogle... and I search for "new cars in <location>".

Somehow, through the magic of common sense, an ad, placed by Toyota, a CAR company, registers as being related to a search for "new CARS". They show me the ad.

Oh and look. They didn't need to circumvent browser security policies around how cookies are handled, they didn't need to scan all my email, they didn't need to track the SSID of my local Wifi network...


This occurs to me every day that I enter someone's birthday in my contact list so that I get the nice birthday warning on my calendar. Google has crowdsourced the production and cross-checking of a very valuable data set to the people, and we're more than willing to fill in the blanks for them.

How many people have weev in their contact list? How many of those people have notes about Mr. Auernheimer in their contact entry (phone number, relatives, pets, favorite colors, etc.) that weev would rather not be accessible to anyone electronically? Multiply this by everyone with things to hide.


Totally agree, but it looks like HN's Google Brigade doesn't!


Speaking as an Australian: Hello! Yes please?


You're under the Five Eyes, no reason to cover you any differently than US citizens :P


Exactly. Just EU citizens? How about the entire frickin world.


May be related to Australia being a part of the Five Eyes.

Keep in mind though that the UK is a special case in the EU in many many ways.

However there are many organizations, countries and interests involved here. There are the US, the rest of the world, the EU, the NATO, the Five Eyes, other trade agreements and even lots of special agreements (partly known for a long time, partly due to the Snowden revelations) with countries such as France, Germany and others, like Austria (there is a UN HQ, next to a espionage outpost by the NSA).

We now know that pretty much every US embassy also has a lot of SIGINT going on, same for US military bases (they still exist!) in Germany. There are "privately" owned places by the NSA, secret agreements with governments, companies, institutions, etc.

When a country secret laws (or interpretations of such), operates secret prisons, outposts, spies on embassies and international institutions, operates spy satellites that happen to be next to telecommunication satellites, etc. then it's really naive to think they you change some laws and things won't be happen anymore.

Do you really think in a country where agencies spy on the senate, where there are secret interpretations of laws by secret courts that democratic means have any chance of working?

Also given economical and military power how do you want to put pressure on the US? Even with some economic power the US military is still the biggest and best funded and as history has shown it's not only there for defense.

I don't think this can be changed easily, not because of thinking bad of the US (government), but because the system is big and strongly relies on these things. Big, complex systems are incredibly hard to change. The technicians here probably understand that.

Don't get me wrong. It may be possible, but the chance is low and fundamental changes might even lead to unrest. That's sad, but changing the system has been tried in many ways, even in the US, but the way the economic and military system works right now usually got strengthened or made more static. It's maybe what you'd call a technical debt in the sense that you build up on something that's not right.

You might wanna try a rewrite, but think about "rewrites" are in the context of a country. I am thinking about the French Revolution or "tearing down" of Germany after World War 2 here.

The US also has no history of that really being possible, because they never lost in the sense of needing to rebuild, while in Europe alone in the past 100 years everything changed completely in the couple of 100 years.

You can't blame the US for not doing that. It's not nice. Maybe a better way is possible, but so far history has no real examples of it, especially not for countries (or realms) that were so big and complex. Maybe it would even be better to do it small scale, maybe even by the states in the US declaring independence, because big realms tend to end up with one or two totalitarian systems in between and millions of death. Smaller countries or simply groups of fewer people tend to be more flexible (see startups).

Maybe there is another way. It would be really great if a lot of things would change, because currently civil rights that were made in order to prevent a lot of bad things from ever happening again are by many not considered something of value anymore (even though people like to pretend otherwise, but civil rights, human rights are by definition and intention nothing that you only care for when things are good).


Can't edit anymore, so here a second posting. Since what I wrote probably sounds a bit bold I want to add a reference tho this.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who advised many US presidents in the last couple of decades wrote many books. Among those books there is The Grand Chessboard. It explains a really large part of the US politics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grand_Chessboard


That's a very long posting based unfortunately on an entirely false premise.

The act already has exclusions for national security. That seems unlikely to change for foreign citizens.


Yeah, well this wouldn't be as much of a problem if Google didn't harvest all the data just because they can, would it?


Yap, they harvest email data because they can /s


Why just EU? The EU delegates can pressure US to cover anyone under the act not just EU residents. If US bends to EU's demands about privacy but doesn't treat rest of the world similarly then it says something about US.


EU "delegates" don't have what it takes to pressure the US on anything. It's usually the other way around. EU regularly bends to US demands, not vice-versa. E.g. providing the NSA with personal data for all airline passengers flying in or out of Europe...


The US and EU are sharing data both ways. That is not a popular fact because then you can't demonize one side.


It's often claimed that politics in the US is run by / dominated by corporations.

I find the contradiction in that claim at times like this to be especially dramatic. The biggest corporations in America - Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc - are actively being harmed by the US Government. US telecoms are having the doors shut to business in Europe and Asia, because of this stuff. Countless billions in profit are at stake.

Another headline from today: corporations are holding $2 trillion overseas, because of the wonky corporate tax policies of the US. If corporations actually ran anything, that wouldn't be a problem.


The wonky thing being that they would have to pay tax on that money if they take it to the US, but they've already made all that effort not to pay tax on the income in the country of origin! (sad face)


It's part of the absurdity that is the US tax code.

I think it was Bill Clinton (among countless others) that elaborated how the obvious thing to do, is to compress the corporate tax rate down to close to 20%, and eliminate most of the tax gaming (simplification).

We could continue to tax corporations at a reasonably competitive rate (vs the rest of the world), simplify the tax code drastically, and keep tax revenue approximately the same. That we can't seem to do something so obvious, which has lots of support from both parties, draws a pretty big sad face from me.


Poor corporations.. Maybe we should start non-profit to help them survive. You know, each us could donate few bucks to keep these poor corporations afloat. After all what can they do with a few tens of billions in cash?


Create a Corporate Congress.


I knew that you must be one of the "freelancers"...


If Apple is actively being harmed by the US Government it sure doesn't seem it as they are making more than they ever have.


The calculations on business lost to the Snowden revelations, is tallied in at least the tens of billions, and it's likely to get more dramatic over time by encouraging new European and Asian competition (to build matching scale replacement services) where there previously was not as much.


I would love to see some evidence that Apple lost money due to the Snowden revelations.


That or the NSA could simply stop indiscriminate spying of the general public.

Why not solve the actual problem instead of making small amendments that at best serve as a sales arguments for Google in Europe?


While you are at it, why not include all humans? Why just EU?


Thousands of employees of all the agencies would become jobless. You don't really want that, do you? ;)

Contracts with private organizations would also be affected. The whole economy would break down! [sarcasm]


There is a lot I like about the US. Trust the US however, I cannot. Whether this passes or doesn't. There's been to much of the bad stuff for too long.


Looks like Google is really worried about the antitrust movement getting steam in the EU. That's probably why MG Siegler is in the EU now.


EU privacy laws are already stronger than in the US. All Google needs to do is to actually abide by them, but being based in the US, evidently they can't. The fact that they have to try to change US government policy in order to extend privacy to their international users is a pretty sad state of affairs and a warning to potential international clients.


I think it's time the reverse is also true, since governments are only half of the problem. Companies are the other half. EU privacy rules need to be applied to US citizens as well.

Between apply the US Privacy Act to EU Citizens and applying EU privacy rules to US citizens, both US and EU citizens will enjoy less surveillance from governments and corporations.


Any observation by Google of the EU Safe Harbor Act in this post? http://www.export.gov/safeharbor/eu/eg_main_018365.asp


The Safe Harbo(u)r agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on. In fact I'd bet that it will struck down in court for breaching human rights.


I would say: Canada, Britain, and Australia yes. They're consistent and steady allies. To the rest of the EU, who is hellbent on giving America the finger whenever possible... sorry about it. Clean up your act, kick the spies, human trafficking, blatant corruption, sympathy for murderous regimes out of your countries, and we'll think about this. We're not perfect either, but we're trying. Show the same effort and we can move forward.


Hah! And I thought HN was for the most part troll-free.


USA supported murderous regimes in Dominican republic, Chile, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, South Africa, Indonesia, Iraq, and many others.


> We're not perfect either, but we're trying

No, we're really not. We still completely in bed with the ones that are advantageous to us.


Careful, we really don't want to set any precedent for pushing American law onto other countries - PATRIOT ACT anyone?


If only Obama was in some sort of position with power to do something....................................


Get your own Privacy Act! And get off my lawn!


EU is a part of the US, surprise.


[deleted]


It's pretty easy to say that, but even if you are a customer of a company using US services this affects you. It isn't always obvious or user facing either; what if you go to buy a house and the estate agent uses Salesforce?




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