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EU-US data transfer accord enters into force

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EU-US data transfer accord enters into force

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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union approved Tuesday the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, a special arrangement that replaces the former 'Safe Harbor' agreement to allow transfer of personal data from the EU to the United States.

The 'Privacy Shield' replaces the former 'Safe Habor' agreement, which had served the same purpose, until it was annulled by the European Court of Justice in October 2015.

In the light on the Snowden revelations on US mass surveillance, the Court decided that such data transfers would violate privacy and data protection rights of European citizens.

Today's adoption by the European Commission of the Privacy Shield follows approval by a majority of EU Member States on Friday 8 July.

The new arrangement imposes obligations on U.S. companies to protect the personal data of individuals and monitoring and enforcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), including increased cooperation with European Data Protection Authorities.

The Privacy Shield involves obligations on companies handling data, with reviews by the U.S. Department of Commerce of participating companies; safeguards and transparency obligations on U.S. government access; and redress mechanisms for Europeans.

The arrangement includes written commitments and assurance by the U.S. that any access by public authorities to personal data transferred under the new arrangement on national security grounds will be subject to clear conditions, limitations and oversight, preventing generalised access. A newly created Ombudsperson mechanism will handle and solve complaints or enquiries raised by EU individuals in this context.

Digital Market Commissioner Andrus Ansip said the new robust framework would ensure "transfers take place in the best and safest conditions."

Not everyone is happy with the agreement, however. "Sadly, for both privacy and for business, this agreement helps nobody at all," said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights, a not-for-profit association of digital civil rights organisations. "We now have to wait until the Court again rules that the deal is illegal and then, maybe, the EU and US can negotiate a credible arrangement that actually respects the law, engenders trust and protects our fundamental rights."

Further information

Adequacy decision

(This decision enters into force upon notification to Member States)

Annexes

Q&A

Factsheet


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