Thursday

19th May 2022

EU urges privacy protection in US data-pact talks

  • The EU and US are in talks to finalise a new Safe Harbour agreement (Photo: Alessio Milan)

The European Commission wants Washington to agree on rules safeguarding the privacy of EU nationals whose data is transferred to firms within the US.

The rules are part of broader negotiations aimed at finalising a data-transfer pact by the end of January.

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

EU commissioner for justice Vera Jourova said on Monday (18 January) that US authorities must make guarantees on privacy in a new so-called Safe Harbour agreement.

"We need guarantees that there is effective judicial control of public authorities' access to data for national security, law enforcement and public interest purposes," she said at a conference in Brussels.

Jourova said talks would continue this week in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Longstanding issues over US government access for national security and intelligence purposes has drawn out talks on Safe Harbour.

Respect for private life

The talks, and an approaching 31 January deadline, are generating unease among data-driven businesses, which had used a previous agreement as a basis to transfer data of EU nationals across the Atlantic with relative ease.

But last October, Europe's top court in Luxembourg scrapped the 15-year old agreement, due in part to broader issues on mass surveillance and fundamental rights in a case initially brought against Facebook by an Austrian student.

The Court found, among other things, that generalised access to the content of electronic communications violated "the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life".

The judgment increased the pressure on negotiators to finalise the new agreement, with EU national privacy authorities threatening “coordinated enforcement actions” should the January deadline be missed.

Meanwhile, four big US and European trade groups recently signed a joint letter urging negotiators to meet the 31 January deadline.

'Too big to fail'

"This issue must be resolved immediately or the consequences could be enormous for the thousands of businesses and millions of users impacted," it said, according to a copy obtained by the AFP.

Signed by the heads of Business Europe, Digital Europe, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Information Technology Industry Council, the letter dated 15 January was addressed to both European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and US president Barack Obama.

Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, also at Monday's conference in Brussels, said the talks were "too big to fail".

“We need a world in which people know that their rights will be protected by both their domestic and international law," he said.

EU imposes deadline for new US data pact

The European Commission is using the European Court of Justice ruling on Safe Harbour as a leverage to get a new deal with American authorities.

Agenda

EU awaits next step in UK talks this WEEK

A draft proposal answering British demands for EU reform is expected. At the EU Parliament plenary session, migration, Turkey, diesel car and data protection will be on the agenda.

Hungary turned into 'hybrid regime', MEPs say

The new draft European Parliament report is an update to the 2018 report which triggered the Article 7 procedure against Hungary, a sanctions probe aiming to rein in member states that break EU rules and values.

Exclusive

EU to clean house of Russia lobbyists

Brussels is to wave goodbye to Russian lobbyists under new sanctions, ending a 20-year era of influence peddling in Europe.

MEPs urge EU not to relax policing rule-of-law amid war

European lawmakers debated the lack of progress in the EU sanctions probe against Poland and Hungary, and warned Russia's invasion of Ukraine should not be a reason to turn away from rule-breaking within the bloc.

News in Brief

  1. Finland expects cut in gas supply after Nato application
  2. Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands push offshore wind
  3. Turkey strong-arms Finland and Sweden on extraditions
  4. Sharp increase in irregular migration to EU
  5. Russia ejects 85 European diplomats
  6. Germany shuts ex-chancellor Schröder's office over Putin ties
  7. Russia soldier pleads guilty to Ukraine war crime
  8. EU to protect Finland and Sweden until they join Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme
  2. EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities
  3. EU and US keen to seize Russian funds for Ukraine
  4. EU to boost solar and renewables rollout to cut Russian gas
  5. Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag
  6. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy
  7. Watchdog calls for tougher curbs on 'problematic' revolving doors
  8. Borrell: EU arms flow to Ukraine amid 'record' Russian losses

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us