The US Trade Representative is warning Europe not to proceed with the idea of EU data network services that don't cross the Atlantic.
The idea of a European “walled garden” emerged in February amid rising anger over revelations that the NSA wants to listen to the whole world – and that its sweeps included snooping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's own BlackBerry.
More in anger than in sorrow, Merkel called for European data networks to be built out in which citizen's communications “need not cross the Atlantic with their emails and other things, but we can also build communications networks within Europe”.
The idea may seem, to those skilled in the art, as odd and redundant. Taking e-mail as an example: there's nothing stopping someone from setting up an e-mail server for (say) German citizens today, and the only communications that need to “cross the Atlantic” are messages sent between those citizens and people whose mail servers are in the US.
However, that's not how the USTR sees things. In its latest report into telecommunications, the organisation says: “Impediments to cross-border data flows remain a serious and growing concern,” specifically citing the European debate.
“Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a “Schengen cloud” by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them” the USTR thunders.
“Deutsche Telekom AG (DTAG), Germany’s biggest phone company, is publicly advocating for EU-wide statutory requirements that electronic transmissions between EU residents stay within the territory of the EU,” the report complains. “DTAG has called for statutory requirements that all data generated within the EU not be unnecessarily routed outside of the EU”.
Turkey, which has recently aroused criticism over its attempts to block social media services, attracts the USTR's criticism for different reasons: new privacy regulations that prevent the transfer of personal data, and in particular citizens' location data, abroad. Website and service blocking in Turkey also get a serve.