Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

Privacy Shield less relevant given GDPR, says data chief

  • Is Privacy Shield still relevant? (Photo: European Commission)

Two years ago the EU's data protection chief said the EU-US data transfer pact known as 'Privacy Shield' would increasingly play a minor role.

On the eve of the launch of the general data protection regulation (GDPR), Giovanni Buttarelli, the European data protection supervisor, maintains his position.

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

On Wednesday (23 May) in an interview with EUobserver, he said the soon to be enforced data rules will provide a much higher standard of safeguards that go far beyond Privacy Shield.

"You may say Privacy Shield is still there but is less relevant for me because the entire set of standards, including the transfer, should be subject to higher standards," he said.

Privacy Shield is a self-certifying legal framework enforced by the Americans that allows US tech firms to transfer data of Europeans back to the United States on the basis they respect European privacy laws.

GDPR is a European regulation that goes way beyond the scope of Privacy Shield, is enforced by European data regulators as of Friday, and wrestles away the corporate grip on people's data worldwide.

GDPR means, among other things, that people in Europe must give affirmative consent for their data to be used, that any business anywhere in the world be clear about how they use that data, and that one can demand that same data be deleted or transferred elsewhere.

It also means companies must design services that have privacy standards built in by default. The whole is supposed to protect data from things like abuse and identity theft.

"On Friday, what you do in Europe remotely is subject to GDPR in its entirety," said Buttarelli, noting that Privacy Shield will no longer be considered as a 'free pass' for US firms to use the data as they please.

The thousands of US companies like Facebook listed under shield are supposed to respect European privacy laws, but in practice, this has raised serious doubts of compliance.

The pact had to be renegotiated after the European Court of Justice scuppered its predecessor Safe Harbour in late 2015 given US mass surveillance, in the wake of secret documents leaked to the press by former US agent Edward Snowden.

The US then earlier this year renewed privacy-invasive programs like section 702 of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the National Security Agency to gather intelligence on Europeans by collecting data from fibre optic cables.

The Americans have also yet to appoint the necessary staff on their side to make sure the conditions of the Privacy Shield pact are fully respected. This includes setting up a permanent ombudsman within the US state department to field complaints by EU citizens.

US promises to meet those conditions fell apart under the Donald Trump administration despite repeated European Commission demands. Last September, Vera Jourova, the EU justice commissioner went to the United States to sort outstanding issues. She came away empty handed.

"I made clear that my patience is running to an end," Jourova told reporters last week when asked if anything has since changed.

Despite the loopholes and lack of US compliance, some MEPs maintain that Privacy Shield remains vital. MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Thursday are set to vote on a report on Privacy Shield.

One of its biggest defenders is Axel Voss, a German centre-right MEP.

"It decreases the administrative burden for businesses and keeps a safe environment for citizens' data," he said, in a statement on Wednesday.

Voss had also tabled more amendments to weaken the general data protection regulation than any other MEP, according to LobbyPlag.

Focus

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

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.

New GDPR enforcer says complaints imminent

The European Data Protection Board is a new EU body tasked with enforcing the EU's privacy laws with powers to impose massive fines. Its head Andrea Jelinek told reporters complaints against companies are expected to be immediate.

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

The new EU privacy rules are touted as a global 'gold standard' - but Mexico's former data commissioner warns some nations are far from ready.

Opinion

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us