Saturday

17th Apr 2021

Regulator criticises 'Privacy Shield' for EU data in US

  • The new EU-US Privacy Shield may end up at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The European Commission plans to move forward on a new data sharing pact with the US despite criticism by Europe's top data protection regulators on Wednesday (13 April).

EU justice commissioner Vera Jourva said the so-called EU-US Privacy Shield, which was agreed in February, will be adopted in June.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"I am grateful to the experts [data regulators] for their thorough analysis," she said in statement.

The move to push ahead with Privacy Shield is motivated, in part, to reestablish a sense of lost trust among businesses that rely on a transatlantic data exchange market worth $260 billion annually.

Privacy Shield lays out rules on the transfer and use of data of EU nationals by firms in the United States and replaces a 15-year old Safe Harbour decision that was declared illegal by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The latest deal, largely based on signed letters from US authorities, is supposed to protect EU nationals from mass surveillance and other possible violations.

But details in the annex of the agreement still give US authorities wide discretion on bulk collection.

US-led mass surveillance, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, was among the main reasons why Safe Harbour ended up in the ECJ in the first place.

Concern is mounting that Privacy Shield could share a similar fate, unravelling two years of talks between the EU commission and the US.

The EU's main regulatory body on privacy, the “article 29 working party”, on Wednesday added to those fears after its assessment flagged gaps.

The article 29 group is composed of representatives of national data protection authorities and EU experts.

It cited improvements to Safe Harbour, but its chair, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, said “the possibility that is left in the Shield and its annexes for bulk collection … is not acceptable.”

In a separate case at the EU court in Luxembourg, judges are to rule by 2017 on whether UK proposals on bulk data retention and bulk access to retained data are lawful.

Falque-Pierrotin said the verdict is likely to weigh in on Privacy Shield.

The US has promised to set up a special ombudsperson, embedded in the state department, to help deal with complaints from EU nationals.

But Falque-Pierrotin said there are outstanding issues on the ombudsperson's independence.

"We don't have enough security guarantees in the status of the ombudsperson," she said.

Article 29's criticism was not limited to US national security issues.

In terms of commercial use of data, it said questions remain on use of EU nationals’ data in the US and on the transfer of their data to other countries.

The Brussels-based European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) aired similar views.

“EU consumers’ rights to privacy should not expire once their personal data travels outside the EU but this agreement does nothing to really prevent that from happening," said BEUC director Monique Goyens.

In a further complication, the legal analysis of Shield is based, in part, on a 20-year old data protection directive that is set to be replaced this week by a much stronger regulation.

The reformed data protection regulation will be voted into law by the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday and transposed into national laws within two years.

It is unclear how well Privacy Shield will respond to the new data protection regulation.

The regulation will be voted in alongside a new EU passenger name record (PNR) bill that has itself attracted widespread criticism from civil liberty defenders.

Cracks emerge in EU US data 'shield'

Issues of mass surveillance and a weak legal basis on a new data privacy deal with the US is casting doubt on its viability should it end up before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

EU to adopt new US data rules in July

Talks on Privacy Shield have agreed key issues - on US security access, bulk collection and oversight - EU commissioner Jourova told EUobserver. Questions on data retention outstanding.

Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact

European data protection authorities tell US to improve oversight on 'Privacy Shield' scheme, otherwise they would go to the EU's highest court.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us