The United States and the European Commission have reached an agreement on a new framework for the transfer of European personal data to the United States, US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Friday on the sidelines of the European Summit in Brussels.
“This framework underscores our shared commitment to privacy, data protection, and the rule of law,” Biden said. According to von der Leyen, the agreement will once again enable “predictable and reliable data flows” between the EU and the US and “ensure that privacy and civil liberties are protected.” Neither party has yet provided details of the agreement in principle.
Replace “Privacy Shield”
The US and EU had to search for a new agreement after the European Court of Justice declared the data-sharing agreement at the time invalid in July 2020. According to the court, the so-called “Privacy Shield” offers insufficient safeguards to protect the privacy of European citizens. European judges have mainly criticized the US intelligence services’ long-range access to European personal data.
The ruling was a major victory for Austrian privacy activist Max Schrams, who successfully challenged a data-sharing agreement with the United States for the second time in court after “Safe Harbor” in 2015.
The thousands of US companies that have used Privacy Shield, especially the big tech giants, have been less well established. For example, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has warned that it will have to withdraw from Europe if legal uncertainty persists.
Tech companies make huge profits from processing personal data, and since the court ruling, they have had to resort to alternative solutions, which provide less legal certainty. According to President Biden, reintroducing a robust and sustainable framework for data transmission will help bolster more than $7 trillion in economic relations with the European Union.
“No substantial reforms on the part of the United States”
The European Organization for Entrepreneurship BusinessEurope speaks of “a great signal for business and the world at large”. Legal certainty about the flow of data will encourage innovation, growth and job creation. This is a win-win for companies on both sides of the Atlantic,” CEO Markus Perrier praised the deal.
Shrems himself reacted less enthusiastically. “It looks like we’re doing the ‘Privacy Shield’ again, in one respect in particular: politics above law and fundamental rights,” he wrote on Twitter. “This has already failed twice. What we hear again is a ‘mixture’ approach, but no substantive reforms from the US side. Let’s wait for the script, but my first guess is that it will fail again.”
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