According to a ruling from Luxembourg, companies like Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and its Skype service are not in violation of privacy laws by sending data from Europe to intelligence agencies in the United States, GigaOM reports.
Controversy has recently erupted over the intelligence-gathering operations of the American government, particularly regarding the National Security Agency and the top-secret PRISM project, by which massive amounts of information were covertly collected about American and international citizens.
After being brought to light by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, many have compared the security agency’s surveillance programs to the secret police programs of dictatorships, calling for the dismantlement of such efforts and questioning how they were ever considered legal in the first place. The problem is that the programs often fall into the legal grey area that makes it difficult to pinpoint them as being strictly against U.S. law.
The situation is even more complicated when international laws are considered. Though PRISM would, technically speaking, be difficult to justify under the laws of many European nations in its current form, there is a difference between running the project and cooperating with the project, GigaOM reports.