Wednesday, October 07, 2015

No safe harbour

Edward Snowden just claimed his biggest scalp: the "safe harbour agreement" between the European Union and the USA. Safe harbour was an arrangement that allowed US companies to transfer EU data offshore for processing and storage by promising that they'd obey EU privacy law with it. But they then cut deals with (or were simply spied on by) the NSA as part of its PRISM program. And now that that's public thanks to Snowden, safe harbour has been struck down by the European Court of Justice. The net result: Facebook etc are going to have to start storing European data in Europe, where its safer (or at least where the NSA have to work to get it, rather than simply ask).

But this also has consequences for New Zealand. Firstly, because we've just signed the TPP, which apparently outlaws such data storage arrangements (that is, its a condition of "free" trade that we expose our data to American spying). Secondly because New Zealand also has a "safe harbour" agreement with the EU - which is now obviously in danger. To point out the obvious, New Zealand is a Five Eyes nation, foreign personal data is a legal target for GCSB spying, and we have a mandatory "lawful intercept" capability to allow them to acquire it secretly - all of which means that European data is neither safe nor private in New Zealand. Which means we can probably expect that to be struck down in the near future as well. Just another example of how our spies' relationships cost us...