ON BIRDS AND BYTES – THE ECJ VERDICT TO PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION

What have birds and bytes in common on their way from A to B? They know nothing about borders and national justice systems. Now bytes are endangered to become a subject of national politics and interpretation of a variety of laws, which most European citizens neither know nor understand.

INVALIDATING AN AGREEMENT – BALKANISATION OF THE INTERNET?
The ruling of the ECJ about privacy and data protection about the EU Commission’s US Safe Harbour decision contributes to the Balkanization of the Internet claims The Economist. According to the European judges who declared the current agreement as invaluable, now each of 28 European countries can put its own regulation in place. Imagine 28 different national regulators with their own interests: a paradise for politicians and lawyers, a nightmare for citizens and the Internet based economy. All in all a barely realistic approach.
Notabene, the issue is only about the place of the physical storage of bytes, not about the contents they distribute, which are subject to other national laws, maybe censorship too.

A CLASH OF VALUES:  JURISDICTION OR ENCRYPTION?
ROBERT LEVINE (NYTimes) describes the dissent between Europe and the U.S. as a clash of values at the core of the problem. While Europeans try to get along with jurisdiction, Silicon Valley bets on encryption instead.  Currently Silicon Valley claims a real success because the Obama administration declared on October 10th that “it is not possible to give American law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to that information without also creating an opening that China, Russia, cybercriminals and terrorists could exploit.” In simple words: no back door on mobile phones for governmental agencies. Intelligence and law protection may fume, but currently this is a victory for privacy and data protection through encryption.

CIVIL RIGHTS IN CONFLICT WITH CIVIL RIGHTS
Beyond the ballyhoo about the NSA: do comparable Russian, Chinese, French, German and a variety of other intelligence agencies not spy on Europeans, infringe their privacy, because a high European Court declares this sphere as sacrosanct? Barely imaginable.
Given this situation, who guarantees my individual data to be safer in Europe, compared to the U.S.? Imagine I prefer my personal data better to be stored on U.S., Japanese, Australian but not European territory. This would make the chaos perfect. There will be no ‘Bytes Control Machines ‘ to prove at 28 virtual European borders any ‘Bytes Delivery Papers’ or ‘ Transfer Visa for Bytes’ if they comply with a bunch of national laws, which differ from the Baltic to Portugal.

If “informational self-control” is a high European value, as the owner, sovereign of my personal data, I demand the right to decide where and under which system they are to be stored. This decision should not be up to European Justices nor to the government of a state I accidentally live in.