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The Washington Statement – In support of data protection

3 July, 2013

Privacy advocates from North America and Europe met last week in Washington, DC to participate in the Computers, Freedom & Privacy (CFP) conference 2013 and to discuss transatlantic cooperation on privacy and data protection issues. The debates focused on the NSA leaks, the European data protection reform and the upcoming negotiations on the EU-US free trade agreement (TAFTA/TTIP).

In light of recent revelations about the collection of personal data from Internet companies by the US government and other dragnet surveillance techniques that impact the rights of Internet users, the North American and European privacy advocates issued the “Washington Statement” in support of the data protection reform in the European Union.

The Statement was jointly drafted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Bits of Freedom (BoF), the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Friends of Privacy USA, Privacy International and many others. It is now open for individual endorsements at

This coalition of civil society and consumer groups issued the following consensus statement:

Privacy is a basic human right set out in Articles 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

We, the undersigned civil society groups from North America and Europe, are outraged because:
• Under PRISM and related surveillance programs, the US government is collecting personal data that individuals have given to companies such as Google or Facebook. These data were given freely or inadvertently, trusting that they would only be used for stated commercial purposes and not secretly shared with governments in order to monitor innocent people worldwide;
• At the same time, the US companies and the US administration are lobbying in Europe against European data protection law at a time when the world needs strong privacy protections most;
• EU citizens currently have significant privacy rights that US citizens do not have – thereby creating a level of trust in the public and private sectors in the European Union that is not available to US citizens.

Currently, the European Union is reforming its general data protection framework for the private sector. We therefore call on EU policy makers:
• to oppose corporate lobbying and to prevent the erosion of privacy protections in the European Union;
• to set a high standard and ensure that EU data protection law sets a global standard for privacy;
• to ensure specific rights of individuals are being preserved, such as explicit consent to personal data processing, the right to access, rectification and certain rights to erasure that are in the existing European legal framework;
• to ensure basic principles that would help protect citizens against untargeted and disproportionate surveillance measures, such as data minimization, purpose limitation, limited storage periods and notification procedures;
• to ensure that personal data processed in the EU is not transferred to third country authorities without a determination that there are adequate privacy safeguards.

We further call on US policy makers:
• to repeal provisions of the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act that permit unlawful surveillance of users of Internet services;
• to enact the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” into law;
• to cease the US opposition to EU efforts to strengthen data protection;
• to support ratification of Council of Europe Convention 108.

Our common future, on both sides of the Atlantic, needs privacy and a strong European law. We call on European policy makers to defend this human right now, as an essential prerequisite for preserving privacy, freedom of thought and of expression in vibrant democracies.

The Statement can be endorsed at

Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference 2013

(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler - EDRi)



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