Data Protection Responses To PRISM "A Smokescreen"

Simon Phipps | Computerworld | June 17, 2013

An online privacy expert has denounced European responses to US Internet surveillance and called for legal immunity in Europe for those that report its effects.

At the Open Rights Group conference in London recently, one of the most popular talks -- How to wiretap the Cloud (without anybody noticing) -- was given by independent privacy and surveillance expert Caspar Bowden. Until 2011 he was Chief Privacy Adviser to Microsoft and he has a deep understanding of the extent of US and other national surveillance of the Web. 

The risks related to PRISM came as no surprise to him. Indeed, earlier in the year he had co-authored a report to the European Parliament of November 2012 which was the first explanation of the problem of FISA 702, and associated loopholes in EU Data Protection law. The Q & A with Caspar that follows was prepared in February for a French publication. At that time he had no knowledge of the existence of PRISM, and the analysis was based entirely on research from open sources. As Caspar commented when I asked him this weekend, the analysis is still completely relevant.