Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Holder in Brussels

To the undoubted delight of everyone and anyone in the European Parliament, US Attorney-General Eric Holder was in Brussels for an exchange of views with the LIBE Committee last week. In the presence of the AFET Committee and the EU-US delegation, the Committee spoke with the AG about privacy. (The meeting actually took place in the József Antall building, where I've never been because they were still building it when I was in Brussels in 2006.)

For those who want to know more about the topic, the video is here and the AG's introductory remarks are here.

Personally, I am simply rejoicing at the thought of all those proud MEPs sitting there posing stinging questions to the Attorney-General, such as Carmen Romero (S&D, ES), who explained that "[her] impression is that in the US privacy is a kind of conditional right". Also, imagine the astonishing amount of doublethink involved in talking for an hour and four minutes without ever admitting that Americans and Europeans simply mean completely different things when they talk about "privacy rights". Such doublethink allowed the AG to say things like "each of our systems protect civil liberties - including privacy - effectively, but in our own ways". (Cf. EP Press Release)

In the US, privacy is about what people are allowed to ask when. In the EU, privacy is about what people are allowed to do with your data after they've asked. Completely different things...

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