A senior US official said, “US intelligence does not conduct mass, indiscriminate harvesting of foreigners’ private data,” on the eve of an EU court ruling, which is deemed to affect several companies including Facebook and related websites.
Robert Litt, who is the legal adviser to the Director of National Intelligence, firmly invalidated all allegations suggesting that Prism, an US surveillance program, allows US officials to look into personal data and information on vast scale.
Litt went ahead and wrote in the Financial Times, “Prism is focused and reasonable. It does not involve ‘mass’ and ‘unrestricted’ collection of data.”
The existence of Prism was leaked in the year 2013 by Edward Snowden, a former NSA agent. This revelation instigated Max Schrems, an Austrian student, to file a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner to challenge the transfers of European user’s data to US servers by Facebook.
This case is now being heard in the European Court of Justice, which will be ruled on Tuesday. The ruling will be done on the validity of the total legal framework, called Safe Harbour, which lets more than 4000 firms, from airlines to social media groups to transmit data to the US from the EU.
With the abolishment of Safe Harbour, every kind of transfers would be either restricted or become more expensive and time consuming, under EU laws that forbid data-sharing with nations considered to have lesser privacy standards like the US.
US officials are eagerly waiting for the outcome to decide ways to collect data in the future. The commission is expected to give a news conference on Tuesday at 1500 CET in response to the ruling.