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US-EU data transfer deal set for speedy implementation

Posted by Nick Prag at 01 December 2016, 22:30 CET |
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The European Parliament gave its final green light to the historic EU-U.S. Data Protection 'Umbrella Agreement' on Thursday, despite concerns over whether president-elect Donald Trump might be less keen on its implementation.

With the EU and the U.S. needing more than ever to cooperate in the fight against crime and terrorism and protect citizens from common security challenges, the agreement, which follows years of negotiation, puts in place a comprehensive high-level data protection framework for EU-US law enforcement cooperation.

This covers all personal data (for example names, addresses, criminal records) exchanged between the EU and the U.S.

And it provides some important safeguards and guarantees of lawfulness for data transfers, thereby strengthening fundamental rights, facilitating EU-U.S. law enforcement cooperation and restoring trust.

It should help to restore some trust in the U.S., which took a big hit following revelations of mass surveillance by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

What the Snowden case did was to show "that the United States needs to deliver on trustworthy data protection rules when it comes to security", said Jan Albrecht, the Green MEP responsible for steering the deal through the European Parliament.

It is a unique step forward that the U.S. will grant all EU citizens the right to enforce their data protection rights in U.S. courts, a right U.S. citizens already enjoy in Europe.

Indeed it is the first time in history that the United Stated has opened up their fundamental rights to non-US citizens or residents.

If this had not been agreed, the EU would in future have been prevented from transferring data to the United States, as the European Court of Justice had already decided that this was an essential element of any such agreement.

The EU now looks forward to seeing whether U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is inclined to place any obstacles to implementation of the agreement.

The EU stance is that the U.S. side must now make the necessary designations under the Judicial Redress Act, so that the agreement can enter into force as soon as possible.

And if it is not implemented fully by the United States, it will not enter into force and the situation will remain as it is.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of EUbusiness.com. Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.