Sunday

28th May 2017

Trump's anti-privacy order stirs EU angst

  • "We will be very strict assessors of the current decisions" taken by the US administration, EU commissioner Jourova said. (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Commission wants guarantees that the Privacy Shield data pact with the US won't be dismantled following Donald Trump's decision to strip non-US citizens of protection.

"I need to be reassured that Privacy Shield can remain", EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova told EUobserver on Friday (27 January) in Malta.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Trump signed earlier this week an executive order on public security that eliminated privacy safeguards for foreigners.

It noted that "agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens."

Trump’s move sparked concerns that Privacy Shield, a recent EU-US data-sharing treaty, would no longer be fit to protect EU nationals’ information in the hands of US firms.

Jourova shed doubt on whether Trump's executive order would survive.

"There are basic principles which set the limits for the national security bodies for the access to the data," she said.

Jourova plans on meeting with her US counterparts, including Trump's secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, a 79-year old Wall Street multibillionaire. She also wants to discuss the issue with the new US attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

"I need to have reconfirmation that there is continuity and we will be very strict assessors of the current decisions because Privacy Shield is not a one-off decision, it is the mechanism where we have several American national authorities involved," said Jourova.

An annual report on how the agreement works in practice is set to be published in September.

Some 1,500 companies have signed up to the Shield over the past six months, including US technology giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

The Shield was put in place after the European Court of Justice scrapped a previous accord, called Safe Harbour, amid revelations of mass-scale US snooping in the EU.

The European Commission, in an emailed statement, had on Thursday said Trump's executive order would not change much because US Privacy Act never offered much protection in the first place.

"We are aware of the executive order on public safety. The US Privacy Act has never offered data protection rights to Europeans," a commission spokesperson had said in an email.

The commission added on Thursday that a separate data treaty, the so-called EU-US Umbrella Agreement, would also stay in place.

Set for launch in early February, the Umbrella accord governs privacy rights of EU nationals in EU-US police cooperation.

"To finalise this agreement the US Congress adopted a new law last year, the US Judicial Redress Act, which extends the benefits of the US Privacy Act to Europeans and gives them access to US courts," said the spokesperson.

Not everyone is convinced that the US will follow through on its commitments.

A Dutch liberal MEP, Sophie in‘t Veld, has said the chances of the Umbrella agreement being enacted in full by the US was "almost nil".

Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor, who lifted the lid on US snooping in the EU, also said last September that Privacy Shield would not stop US services from poking around in Europeans’ private lives.

EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy

Privacy safeguards for EU citizens' personal data that is sent to the United States remains exposed to abuse, due to the lack of oversight and the shift towards increased surveillance under president Trump.

Children among dead in UK bomb attack

Children are among the victims after a suspected suicide bomber detonated at the Manchester Arena on Monday, the latest in a string of terror attacks to hit Europe.

EU and US discuss in-flight laptop ban

A meeting between US and EU officials in Brussels on possibly imposing a laptop ban on commercial flights was described by one senior Trump administration official as "robust".

EU visa waiver looms for Russia-annexed Crimeans

Visa liberalisation for Ukrainians entering the EU will also apply to inhabitants of the peninsula taken over by Moscow in 2014. But the issue poses administrative as well as political problems.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms