The UK has been struggling to manage its own data collection and storage of mobile phone location data, as the US, Germany, France and Canada have all rolled out their own data sharing arrangements.
The UK has no official position on whether the US and Germany have data sharing agreements with the UK.
But data sharing is happening across the EU and several European countries are now using similar data-sharing arrangements with other countries to keep tabs on people.
According to a new report from the research group Privacy International, the UK has now been using data sharing with Germany, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Sweden for over a year.
Privacy International’s report is based on a survey of 2,000 people in the UK, France, Germany/Austria, Spain, Italy, Spain/Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and Norway.
Data sharing between the UK and other countries has been going on since 2013, when the US began tracking mobile phone locations and storing it for the US government.
Privacy International found that the UK had previously used similar data sharing to monitor the location of the phones of European citizens, although it did not go as far as the American government.
Privacy Institute UK director James Hays said that although data sharing has been common in the US for many years, the US has recently been moving into the data business.
“This has been happening for many decades, but this is the first time it’s come to the UK,” Hays told Business Insider.
“The UK is a big market and they have lots of data, and the UK data collection industry is booming.”
Privacy International surveyed more than 2,500 people across the UK on a range of topics.
Data shared by UK companiesThe UK companies that collect data for the government include BT, BT Plus, G4S, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sky.
Data shared by British companiesThe US government is the biggest user of data sharing in the world, and has been using that data for some time, with the Department of Homeland Security using data from US companies to track down terrorists and other threats.
“We see it as a way of tracking down criminals,” said Hays.
“But we also see it being used for things like law enforcement and national security.”
Data sharing with other European countriesThe UK and others have been using similar agreements to track mobile phone users across the continent for years, and Privacy International said that the agreement was a common one across Europe.
Privacy experts told Privacy International that the EU has been the most aggressive in data sharing.
“There are probably other countries that are more aggressive than the UK because the UK does not have as big a presence in the European Union,” Haides said.
“There is a much bigger European market.”
Privacy Institute’s Hays argued that the US was more aggressive in terms of data collection than the EU.
“As you can see in the [US] report, they are doing everything possible to limit their own use of the data.
They are limiting the amount of data they have and restricting the number of times they have access to it,” Hais said.
The EU data sharing agreement has been widely criticised for the privacy implications of data being shared between its member states, and Hays pointed to the case of Facebook, which is owned by Facebook.
“They [Facebook] have a data protection policy that has been criticised in the EU, it’s really a really big problem,” Hides said.
“It is a huge data transfer system and it has got privacy implications.”
Data shared with other governmentsThe data shared by other countries is also a problem.
The European Commission has said that it does not share data with countries in other EU countries, but Privacy International told Business Monitor that it has found that this has happened.
Privacy Watch UK’s Haids said that data sharing between member states is also problematic, as members are able to share data between them.
“You have to look at the facts and see where that’s going,” Hided said.
Privacy watchdog Privacy International’s Hanks said that members of the European Parliament are in a difficult position.
“If you are the member of the EU parliament that you want to pass data sharing legislation to protect your constituents’ privacy and to make sure you are getting the best value out of your data, then you need to work with your members in the same way that you would with the public, who are the users,” Hanks told Business Today.
“And if they don’t agree, then it is very difficult to change legislation.”
Privacy Watch International’s O’Brien told Business Week that the commission is also struggling to enforce data sharing rules.
“I think the commissioners have been very good at getting the data shared, but they haven’t been good at enforcing the rules,” O’Briensaid.
“It’s very difficult for them to enforce