US gov’t free to grab EU data stored on US cloud services

28 Jan, 2013

An obscure US law called the ‘Foreign Intelligence Amendments Act’ (FISAAA) grants the US government powers to snoop through data stored on US cloud computing providers like Amazon and Google.

Although the law has a number of limitations, the amendment makes it lawful for the US to conduct “purely political surveillance” on foreigners’ data on US Cloud providers, said Caspar Bowden, former chief privacy adviser to Microsoft:

“It doesn’t have to be a political party, it can be an activist group or anybody engaged in political activity or even just data from a foreign territory that relates to the conduct of foreign affairs in the United States,” he said.

The European Commission is reportedly looking to have the amendments changed, but declined to comment when asked by EUobserver:

“This [FISAAA] is not something we have any comment about,” said the spokeswoman for the European Commissioner of Justice Viviane Reding in an email.

According to Bowden, companies that are requested to hand over information are held to secrecy:

“The providers have to give all assistance, facilities, information to accompany this in total secrecy. If that secrecy is breached, it’s a contempt of court and probably a breach of the US espionage act as well,” noted Bowden.

If anyone has any info on how many EU companies use Google and Amazon to store their data, please let us know!

via EUobserver, phot: Robert Scoble, Flickr

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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