EU-US data transfer agreement encourages business, but worries about privacy activists

PHOTO FILE: data center pictured at DataRush IT Services in Malaga, southern Spain, May 30, 2018. REUTERS / Jon Nazca / File Photo

March 25, 2022

Francesco Guaraschia and Fu Yun Chi

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and the United States on Friday announced a preliminary data transfer deal seeking to end a stalemate in thousands of companies after the European Court of Justice rejected two previous agreements over concerns over US surveillance.

While businesses cheered the news, Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, whose campaign about the risk of US intelligence access to European data in a long-running dispute with Meta led to a court veto, criticized the lack of details.

US President Joe Biden and European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told a joint news conference in Brussels that the interim agreement takes into account the court’s concerns and offers stronger legal protection.

“Today we have agreed to unprecedented protection of data privacy and security,” Biden said.

“I am very pleased that we have found an agreement in principle on a new system of transatlantic data flows,” said von der Leyen.

“This will allow for a predictable and reliable data flow between the EU and the US, guaranteeing privacy and civil liberties,” she added, without elaborating.

An EU official familiar with the matter said it would probably take several months to turn the interim agreement into a final legal deal.

“First, the United States must prepare its executive order, and then we need to hold internal consultations in the Commission and within the European Data Protection Board,” the official said, referring to the EU’s confidentiality oversight.

The companies welcomed the temporary deal.

“Legal certainty in data flows will stimulate innovation, growth and job creation. This is a win-win agreement for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, ”said Marcus J. Beyer, director of the lobby group BusinessEurope.

“The new agreement will give companies of all sizes legal certainty for the transmission, analysis and use of data on both sides of the Atlantic. The ability to move data is crucial in today’s digital economy, “said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Activist Schrems, however, said the lack of details was a cause for concern, and that if the United States offered only assurances from the executive instead of changing its oversight laws, he would not hesitate to go back to court.

“The final text will take longer as soon as it arrives, we will analyze it together with our American legal experts. If it does not comply with EU law, we or another group will most likely challenge it, ”he said in a statement.

The latest data deal risks being broken again if it is not strong enough, said Patrick Van Eke, a partner at Cooley Law Firm in Brussels.

“As before, privacy activists are likely to seek to invalidate the agreement, and the recent FBI Supreme Court ruling against Fazaga will not make it easier for the US administration to convince Europe that the United States has the same strong privacy protections.” he said.

(Report by Francesco Guaraschio; edited by Toby Chopra)

EU-US data transfer agreement encourages business, but worries about privacy activists

Source link EU-US data transfer agreement encourages business, but worries about privacy activists

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