EU set to pass data privacy law amid NSA surveillance scandal


A statue holding the symbol of the Euro stands in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium.


Mark Renders

The European Parliament is set to debate legislation limiting data sharing with the United States.

The new rules could require major internet companies to seek the approval of European authorities before complying with US warrants for private user data.

Transferring European data to outside countries by companies like Google or Yahoo would require following rules set by the EU.

Large fines would be imposed on those companies that do not follow the rules.

The measure is an amendment to a large electronic privacy law.

The law was defeated two years ago after intense US lobbying but has resurfaced in light of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Much of the US surveillance apparatus he revealed can potentially ensnare hundreds of millions of Europeans' private data.

The measures to protect the data will be voted on in committee as early as Monday and then would be passed to the EU Parliament for debate and a vote.

“What happens today is that companies transfer personal data from Europe to a third state like the United States without having a legal base in European Union law,” said Jan Philipp Albrecht, the German parliamentarian responsible for the legislation, according to the New York Times.

If the measure becomes law, Mr. Albrecht said, according to the Times, companies “will be forbidden to do that.”

"As parliamentarians, as politicians, as governments we have lost control over our intelligence services. We have to get it back again," he said, according to the Guardian.

Tech companies and the US are expected to lobby against the effort.