European companies have shown little faith in the degree of online privacy prevalent in the US. The matter came up during this year’s annual RSA Conference, and Facebook privacy officer Erin Egan was seen defending the US in the face of the EU’s apprehension.
“We actually have a very robust privacy regime, and that is what we want to make our international counterparts understand when they think about ensuring the free flow of information between the US and EU”
Erin Egan’s response might not sound like much, but it makes sense in the larger picture when you consider the fact that president of security company RSA, Amit Yoran, has labeled 2015 as the year Hackers will pull off the “super mega breach”.
The EU has lost faith in the US
The lack of the EU’s confidence in the United States’ ability to ensure online privacy is also reflected in the European Court of Justice’s hesitation to give a ruling on the adequacy of the Safe Harbor regime. US based companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook are under investigation for the adequacy of their data protection and privacy framework.
The state of affairs is frequently sugar coated by cyberspace giants in the US, but the seriousness is such that the EU’s Data Protection Commissioner has chosen to remain in direct supervision of all audits conducted under the operation to date.
The Reason: An Embarrassing Data Protection Track Record
The fact of the matter is that the US has a very bad track record and major internet companies in the US have failed to provide adequate online privacy. The problem has roots in the United States’ inability to protect user data in the face of cyber security threats. Notable examples of these weaknesses are:
- Servers at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission were hacked three times in the last three years
- The White House was hacked March 2015 by allegedly exploiting weaknesses in Adobe and Microsoft’s code
- Sony was hacked and upcoming movie ‘The Interview’ leaked online in November 2014
- JP Morgan got hacked in October 2014 and 76 million customers’ data was stolen
- Hundreds of Dropbox users’ login credentials were stolen and posted on Reddit in October last year
- One of the 3rd party app sites for Snapchat was hacked and Snapchat’s users’ photos leaked online
- The US energy grid (and the companies that constitute it) was attacked 79 times in 2014
- Retail giant Target was hacked in May 2014
- Target’s database was hacked and the info of 70 million was stolen, leading to over 470 layoffs
The list of times that the US has failed to provide adequate data security is never ending and exhausting. I have never seen anybody more in need of encryption and tunneling software than the people and businesses in the US. Billions of dollars are being flushed away to fund cyber security research teams and task forces, with no significant results to show.
The Solution: Everyman for Himself
The fact of the matter is that people in the US need to realize that it is an every-man-for-himself scenario, and that the government is so busy trying to cover up the NSA’s activities that it has no time or energy left to commit to ensure data protection.
Using a VPN encrypts your data and tunnels it through a secure server that shields you from your ISP’s and government’s data logging practices. This allows you to browse the internet without having to worry about online surveillance and data duplication threats. Read more about the ways in which a VPN can help make a difference here.