EU Wants Privacy Standards in Data Sharing with US

The European Union wants to agree broad privacy rules with the United States to safeguard personal data shared in pursuit of criminals and terrorism suspects, the EU's rights chief said.

The executive European Commission presented plans on Wednesday to negotiate a deal with Washington that would set standards for giving crime investigators access to information about EU citizens such as tax and health records or phone bills.

Such an agreement could make it easier for the 27-country EU to negotiate specific data transfers to the United States, and prevent messy battles such as an ongoing debate in Brussels over access to EU citizens' bank data.

Cooperation on information is vital for anti-terror investigators because Europe lacks the technology to use some data, particularly bank records, in cross-border probes.

But access to information has become increasingly controversial in Europe because of concerns over privacy, notably in Germany.

"The two continents are putting down values on which they can build all technical agreements in the future," Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for justice and fundamental rights said in an interview with Reuters.

"All bilateral agreements would be based on this basic agreement."

Underscoring controversy in Europe, the European Parliament in February vetoed a temporary deal to allow terror investigators from the United States access to Europeans' bank details, raising concerns in Washington over security.

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