Wednesday

6th Jul 2022

Regulator criticises 'Privacy Shield' for EU data in US

  • The new EU-US Privacy Shield may end up at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The European Commission plans to move forward on a new data sharing pact with the US despite criticism by Europe's top data protection regulators on Wednesday (13 April).

EU justice commissioner Vera Jourva said the so-called EU-US Privacy Shield, which was agreed in February, will be adopted in June.

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

"I am grateful to the experts [data regulators] for their thorough analysis," she said in statement.

The move to push ahead with Privacy Shield is motivated, in part, to reestablish a sense of lost trust among businesses that rely on a transatlantic data exchange market worth $260 billion annually.

Privacy Shield lays out rules on the transfer and use of data of EU nationals by firms in the United States and replaces a 15-year old Safe Harbour decision that was declared illegal by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The latest deal, largely based on signed letters from US authorities, is supposed to protect EU nationals from mass surveillance and other possible violations.

But details in the annex of the agreement still give US authorities wide discretion on bulk collection.

US-led mass surveillance, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, was among the main reasons why Safe Harbour ended up in the ECJ in the first place.

Concern is mounting that Privacy Shield could share a similar fate, unravelling two years of talks between the EU commission and the US.

The EU's main regulatory body on privacy, the “article 29 working party”, on Wednesday added to those fears after its assessment flagged gaps.

The article 29 group is composed of representatives of national data protection authorities and EU experts.

It cited improvements to Safe Harbour, but its chair, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, said “the possibility that is left in the Shield and its annexes for bulk collection … is not acceptable.”

In a separate case at the EU court in Luxembourg, judges are to rule by 2017 on whether UK proposals on bulk data retention and bulk access to retained data are lawful.

Falque-Pierrotin said the verdict is likely to weigh in on Privacy Shield.

The US has promised to set up a special ombudsperson, embedded in the state department, to help deal with complaints from EU nationals.

But Falque-Pierrotin said there are outstanding issues on the ombudsperson's independence.

"We don't have enough security guarantees in the status of the ombudsperson," she said.

Article 29's criticism was not limited to US national security issues.

In terms of commercial use of data, it said questions remain on use of EU nationals’ data in the US and on the transfer of their data to other countries.

The Brussels-based European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) aired similar views.

“EU consumers’ rights to privacy should not expire once their personal data travels outside the EU but this agreement does nothing to really prevent that from happening," said BEUC director Monique Goyens.

In a further complication, the legal analysis of Shield is based, in part, on a 20-year old data protection directive that is set to be replaced this week by a much stronger regulation.

The reformed data protection regulation will be voted into law by the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday and transposed into national laws within two years.

It is unclear how well Privacy Shield will respond to the new data protection regulation.

The regulation will be voted in alongside a new EU passenger name record (PNR) bill that has itself attracted widespread criticism from civil liberty defenders.

Cracks emerge in EU US data 'shield'

Issues of mass surveillance and a weak legal basis on a new data privacy deal with the US is casting doubt on its viability should it end up before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

EU to adopt new US data rules in July

Talks on Privacy Shield have agreed key issues - on US security access, bulk collection and oversight - EU commissioner Jourova told EUobserver. Questions on data retention outstanding.

Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact

European data protection authorities tell US to improve oversight on 'Privacy Shield' scheme, otherwise they would go to the EU's highest court.

Opinion

Romania — latest EU hotspot in backlash against LGBT rights

Romania isn't the only country portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a threat to children. From Poland and Hungary in EU, to reactionary movements around the world are prohibiting portrayals of LGBT people and families in schools.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey signs Nato protocol despite Sweden extradition row
  2. European gas production hit by Norway strike
  3. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  4. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  5. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  6. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  7. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  8. Israel and Poland to mend relations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules
  2. Turkey sends mixed signals on Sweden's entry into Nato
  3. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  4. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  5. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  6. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  7. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  8. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us