Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

The European Commission on Wednesday (18 October) said the EU-US Privacy Shield, a deal reached between Washington and Brussels to protect Europeans' personal data transferred to the United States for commercial purposes, had passed its first annual review.

The Privacy Shield was concluded last year to replace the Safe Harbour agreement, declared invalid by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in October 2015 over concerns about US government's misuse of Europeans' data for national security reasons.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The ECJ verdict came in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations of US-led mass surveillance programs.

According to EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova, who presented the first annual report on the agreement, the Shield is "working well" and continues to ensure an adequate level of protection for Europeans' personal data transferred to participating companies in the US.

"US authorities", said Jourova "are complying with their commitments" by putting in place necessary structures and procedures to ensure the correct functioning of the agreement - such as new redress possibilities for EU individuals, a complaint-handling and enforcement procedure and cooperation with the European Data protection authorities.

There are 2,400 companies - including Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Alphabet Inc - said Jourova, "that have been certified by the US Department of Commerce" so far. That is more "than what happened" during the 10 years during which "the previous agreement was in place".

Room for improvement

Nevertheless, the commissioner explained, some "room for improvements" is still called for, notably the need from the the US Department of Commerce for a tougher monitoring of the compliance of companies with its privacy rules.

Commission vice-president for the digital single market Andrus Ansip said "this first annual review demonstrates our commitment to create a strong certification scheme with dynamic oversight work."

In the coming months, the Commission will continue to to closely monitor the functioning of the Privacy Shield framework, including the US authorities' compliance with their commitments.

The Commission's report, represents a further step after the first annual joint review of the Shield, held in Washington in mid-September 2017 to ensure the United States lived up to its guarantees to better protect data EU data transferred across the Atlantic.

Privacy ombudsperson needed

Last month, commissioner Jourova had told journalists that she wanted the United States to nominate a qualified privacy ombudsperson - someone who, as decided in the Privacy Shield, would be able to deal with European citizens' complaints about US spying.

Major concerns were expressed by Jourova as regarding possible forthcoming changes within the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that is up for renewal before the end of the year.

"Of course we are very concerned about what the new version of this act will mean for Privacy Shield" explained Jourova.

"I was very clear about our position that we do not want to see any changes which will go to the detriment of the protection of private data of Europeans so we will be watching this very closely in the coming weeks and months," she added.

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.

EU Parliament 'cookie' restrictions worry online media

The European Parliament and groups representing newspapers and magazines are at odds over how new privacy rules will affect the media, especially restrictions on website cookies - but one MEP thinks it could spark new business models.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary grants asylum to ex-Macedonia PM
  2. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  3. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  4. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  5. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  6. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  7. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  8. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  2. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  3. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  4. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  5. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  6. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  7. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  8. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us