UKFast's chief executive Lawrence Jones has branded the new Privacy Shield "Safe Harbour dressed up" as European chiefs maintain concerns about the new policy.
Safe Harbour – an agreement which allowed US companies handling EU data to self-certify that they would do so in compliance with local law – was invalidated last October after having been in force for 15 years. Its replacement, named Privacy Shield, was unveiled in February to a mixed response from tech suppliers.
Privacy Shield is expected to come fully into force in the summer and yesterday the European Commission's Article 29 Working Party admitted it had misgivings about the policy in its current form, claiming there are not enough security guarantees about the role of the ombudsperson and their powers.
UKFast's Jones (pictured) said he is not keen on the new agreement.
"I'm absolutely dead against it – it is Safe Harbour dressed up," he said. "It's exactly the same thing but they have added an ombudsman, which is pretty useless under US jurisdiction.
"If you're an organisation being hosted by an American organisation, you've got to do it with the knowledge the US government can access it whenever they want."
He said that in the past, UKFast would only ever receive formal legal requests to hand over a user's data about once every five years, but that due to the increasing importance of the internet, that has risen to a few times a year.
"As a datacentre provider, if the British police turn up with a court order – as they do occasionally when someone has done something very, very wrong – we know it has gone through due process and I am very, very comfortable with that," he said. "But there is nothing here [in the Privacy Shield] to safeguard any British or European business. I actually think it is not very smart really. Do they think we are going to roll over and say 'brilliant branding, great new name – just go ahead'?"
Ahead of the working group's latest updates, Microsoft threw its weight behind the Privacy Shield agreement earlier this week, and calling it a "strong foundation" on which to build.
Jones said Microsoft's position is not a surprise.
"Microsoft want to go ahead with this because they have felt the brunt of European and British businesses, which are conscious and worried about security, and have not jumped on the Azure platform and have been very nervous to adopt their platform.
"Microsoft and AWS have said 'oh well, we will build a UK datacentre' but that won't mean anything because you can host data in Britain but if it is an American-owned company, they have to allow access to the American government. It makes no difference; it is rhetoric.
"They have their hands tied because they have an American government behind them which wants to be above the European law. This is no surprise really – was the American government ever going to concede to Europe? Absolutely not. Since 9/11 it has had the ability to snoop on anything it wants and they want to continue that.
"That's fine if you can trust 100 per cent of people. But if you look at the leaks – Wikileaks – that was a US official; Panama Papers – that is now rumoured to be a US official – if you can say all US people are 100 per cent trustworthy, fine. But sadly, that's not how the world operates."
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