06:23 GMT +3 hours25 May 2016
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New Privacy Agreement Fails to Protect Europeans From US Surveillance

© REUTERS/ Toby Melville
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The new agreement between the United States and the European Union to protect privacy rights on transatlantic data transfers fails to protect half a billion Europeans from surveillance by US intelligence agencies, privacy activist Max Schrems warned.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Schrems is an Austrian privacy activist who campaigns against privacy violations, including violations of European privacy laws, and alleged transfer of personal data to intelligence agencies such as the US National Security Agency.

"A couple of letters by the outgoing Obama administration is by no means a legal basis to guarantee the fundamental rights of 500 million European users in the long run, when there is explicit US law allowing mass surveillance," Schrems warned in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Schrems pointed out that the European Court in Luxembourg had clearly stated the United States had an obligation to ensure privacy protection by means of domestic law or international commitments, but statements about the new agreement issued so far remained vague about details.

"We don’t know the exact legal structure yet, but this could amount to obviously disregarding the [European] Court’s judgement… This would also not provide any legal certainty for businesses — at the most it would provide a couple more months to adapt."

Schrems noted the US and EU member governments had brought heavy pressure on the European Commission in Brussels, forcing it to accept the new agreement against the advice of its own legal experts.

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