EU-US data flows: urgent implementation of Privacy Shield needed

Date

26 May 2016

Sections

InfoSociety
Security

The European Parliament today affirmed its support for the agreement reached between the European Commission and the US Government on transfers of data between the EU and the US. This agreement is called the Privacy Shield and it replaces an earlier agreement called Safe Harbour which was struck down by the European Court of Justice citing a lack of data protection of EU citizens on US territory.

Following the invalidation of Safe Harbour by the European Court of Justice, the European Commission resumed its negotiations with the US Government to reach a new agreement for the legal transfer of commercial data to the US. This EU-US agreement was reached last February and immediately after some Left-leaning MEPs came out strongly against it.

The EPP Group’s Spokesman on the issue, Axel Voss MEP, warned against any attempt to torpedo the finalisation of the Privacy Shield, listing benefits to European consumers and SMEs alike: “Free cross-border data flows between the EU and the US are of paramount importance for our economies, trade and investment. Data flows are a key element for the competitiveness of business. Therefore the EPP Group welcomes the conclusion of the negotiations between the EU and the US on this topic.”

“The new mechanism differs substantially from the Safe Harbour agreement. It imposes more specific obligations on companies willing to join the Privacy Shield framework agreement. It includes new checks and balances ensuring that the rights of EU citizens can be exercised when their data is being processed in the US”, continued Voss.

“And finally, the creation of the Ombudsman mechanism within the Department of State will also help better protect EU citizens. The joint annual review of the mechanism will ensure a permanent improvement of the Privacy Shield. Clear and uniform rules are a key element for business development and growth. We need legal certainty for our companies, European SMEs and start-ups. I therefore warn against any attempt aimed at jeopardising the finalisation of the Privacy Shield”, he concluded.

The European Parliament has no legislative role in the Privacy Shield agreement but it clearly has a strong political say. The European Commission is expected to take a final decision on this agreement by end of June 2016.

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