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EU-Japan data sharing agreement comes into effect

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EU-Japan data sharing agreement comes into effect

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(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission adopted Wednesday an 'adequacy decision' which allows personal data to flow freely between the European Union and Japan on the basis of strong protection guarantees.

This decision is the last step in a procedure launched in September 2018, which included the opinion of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the agreement from a committee composed of representatives of the EU Member States. Together with its equivalent decision adopted today by Japan, it will start applying as of today.

"This adequacy decision creates the world's largest area of safe data flows," said Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova: "Europeans' data will benefit from high privacy standards when their data is transferred to Japan. Our companies will also benefit from a privileged access to a 127 million consumers' market."

She added that the accord was an investment in privacy; and that it would serve as "an example for future partnerships in this key area and help setting global standards."

Key elements of the adequacy decision

Before the Commission adopted its adequacy decision, Japan put in place additional safeguards to guarantee that data transferred from the EU enjoy protection guarantees in line with European standards. This includes:

  • A set of rules (Supplementary Rules) that will bridge several differences between the two data protection systems. These additional safeguards will strengthen, for example, the protection of sensitive data, the exercise of individual rights and the conditions under which EU data can be further transferred from Japan to another third country. These Supplementary Rules will be binding on Japanese companies importing data from the EU and enforceable by the Japanese independent data protection authority (PPC) and courts.
  • The Japanese government also gave assurances to the Commission regarding safeguards concerning the access of Japanese public authorities for criminal law enforcement and national security purposes, ensuring that any such use of personal data would be limited to what is necessary and proportionate and subject to independent oversight and effective redress mechanisms.
  • A complaint-handling mechanism to investigate and resolve complaints from Europeans regarding access to their data by Japanese public authorities. This new mechanism will be administered and supervised by the Japanese independent data protection authority.

The adequacy decisions complement the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement - which will enter into force next month. European companies will benefit from free data flows with a key commercial partner, as well as from privileged access to the 127 million Japanese consumers. The EU and Japan affirm that, in the digital era, promoting high privacy and personal data protection standards and facilitating international trade must and can go hand in hand.

After two years, a first joint review is due to be carried out to assess the functioning of the framework. This will cover all aspects of the adequacy finding, including the application of the Supplementary Rules and the assurances for government access to data. The Representatives of European Data Protection Board will participate in the review regarding access to data for law enforcement and national security purposes. Subsequently a review will take place at least every four years.

Adequacy decision and related documents

Factsheet on the EU-Japan Adequacy Decision


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