[FinancialTimes] Washington pushed EU to dilute data protection

The Obama administration successfully lobbied the European Commission to strip its data-privacy legislation of a measure that would have limited the ability of US intelligence agencies to spy on EU citizens, according to three senior EU officials. The measure – which was known within the EU as the “anti-Fisa clause”, after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorises the US government to eavesdrop on international phone calls and emails – would have nullified any US request for technology and telecoms companies to hand over data on EU citizens, according to documents obtained by the Financial Times. […]

According to EU officials, the move came after repeated visits to Brussels by senior Obama administration officials, including Cameron Kerry, the commerce department’s top lawyer and brother of US secretary of state John Kerry, who chairs an inter-agency task force responsible for vetting EU data-exchange laws. […]

Leading US tech companies, who have worked closely with the Obama administration on trying to weaken the EU data protection legislation, were also fearful of the measure, since it would have forced them to choose between two competing government mandates – the US demand for data and the EU law forbidding it. […]