Monday

21st May 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

US tests EU patience over Privacy Shield

The data sharing pact with the US is yet to be fully implemented, as the Americans have failed to appoint people in key positions to ensure EU citizens' personal data is protected.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures