EU panel approves new rules to outlaw NSA surveillance practices

The legislation—which has been under consideration for two years—developed stronger legs in the wake of new findings regarding the NSA’s far-reaching spying program

Newly exposed surveillance measures taken by the National Security Agency (NSA) have prompted European Union lawmakers to push new laws mandating American tech companies seek clearance from European officials before complying with U.S. warrants seeking private data.

The European Parliament committee approved new privacy rules, which apply to tech organizations such as Google and Yahoo, in an effort to bolster online privacy and outlaw the kind of surveillance the U.S. has been conducting. The legislation—which has been under consideration for two years—developed stronger legs in the wake of new findings regarding the NSA’s far-reaching spying program.

The NSA’s spying program has prompted an international discussion about surveillance and security rights. Most recently, a report published by Le Monde, France’s daily newspaper, revealed that the NSA had collected over 70 million digital communications inside France in a single month, from Dec. 10, 2012, to Jan. 8, 2013.

If approved by the full parliament, the new rules will become the first joint protection law for Europe’s 500 million citizens, according to NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.

“It would replace outdated rules by individual countries that carried only tiny fines for violators,” she told NPR’s Newscast unit.

The legislation requires the approval of governments and the full European Parliament, which is expected to meet with intense lobbying from American officials and technology companies.

Google faces most claims in a lawsuit alleging that the company illegally reads and mines the contents of private e-mails, according to a Sept. 26 court ruling. Google is facing allegations that these actions violate federal wiretap laws.

InsideCounsel has the NSA covered. For related stories, check out:

Big Tech CEOs chastise NSA information gathering

Congressman asks to bar NSA’s “back doors” to encryption

NSA violated U.S. Constitution by collecting domestic data

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