Late last month, it was announced that the United States and European Union had reached an agreement on monitoring and bulk data collection of European nationals. This provides some exciting developments for individual rights in an increasingly technological world, but it also presents some real gut checks in the future that make me less excited about what this could mean for the future of American spying on our European allies abroad and their citizens.
An organization will be created to handle the complaints of European citizens of American monitoring and data collection, which is great, because it establishes the presumptive need for such a thing and implies that there may be problems with the system in the first place. However, it will be created and managed by the U.S., the people who would be the defendants in these complaints. Without Europe’s ability to co-manage and independently monitor this organization, it seems useless.
Annual checks will be conducted by Europe and the United States, and the United States will commit to not subjecting Europeans to mass surveillance. However, there’s no provisions for Europe to continually monitor the inspection of European citizens except for an annual review, which hardly seems fair, and there’s no mechanism for Europe to be able to trust, but verify that the United States is actually holding up to the new promise it has made.
Europe has a tough decision to make on this one, but it seems that words and commitments to action are a good starting place for real change no matter what.