May 25, 2022

The European Union has just announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with the US to restart a deal on transatlantic data flows, which could end the months of legal uncertainty that will sweep the EU in July 2020. court ruling. US Privacy Shield.

“We have reached an agreement in principle on a new structure for transatlantic data flows,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a joint press conference with US President Joe Biden.

“This will ensure a predictable and reliable flow of data between the EU and the US, while guaranteeing privacy and civil liberties.”

Legal uncertainties surrounding data flows between the EU and the US have prompted European data protection authorities in recent months to issue injunctions against the flow of personal data through products such as Google Analytics, Google Fonts and Stripe.

Facebook’s top regulator in the EU also finally sent a revised draft decision to Meta last month in a multi-year complaint related to its EU-US data flow following the company’s earlier initial suspension order in the fall of 2020. After the trial against him, the end. ,

Although the social networking giant is still not Actually ordered a suspension of its data flow between the EU and the US — and could avoid that bullet altogether if EU regulators agree to suspend forced transfers of data that no longer has an agreement with the US. Political settlement, as then, Shield agreed in principle, granting a grace period suspension of implementation for several months, necessary to reach a final agreement and approve a new data flow agreement between the EU and the US.

This would certainly be what the Meta was hoping for as she tried to delay the execution of the previous one.

It is not clear what the EU and the US agreed on in principle, and how exactly both sides managed to close the gap between the two differently oriented legal systems. And since the stability of the deal will depend precisely on this delicate detail, little can be taken away from today’s announcement other than a political gesture.

Uncertainty about data transfers between the EU and the US actually extends beyond 2020 – a longtime predecessor named Safe Harbor in 2015 as Europe’s Supreme Court due to the same fundamental conflict between privacy rights in the EU and the US. The agreement was declared invalid. Supervision Law…

This dynamic means that any replacement deal will face the daunting prospect of new legal challenges to see if the rights of EU citizens are adequately protected when their data enters the US.

“We have managed to balance the right to security, privacy and data protection,” von der Leyen suggested in a more detailed press conference and in brief comments. He also called for an agreement to be reached in a “balanced and efficient manner” but did not provide details on what exactly was settled.

The commission said the same about the Privacy Shield (and Safe Harbor) – until, of course, the court took a completely different position. Therefore, it is important to understand that the EU Commissioners or their American colleagues do not and cannot have a complete and final assessment.

Only the European Court can decide.

Max Schrems, a privacy advocate and campaigner whose name has become synonymous with the transatlantic data deal (also known as Schrems I and Schrems II), was quick to question what was supposed to be this time.

Replying to von der Leyen’s statement tweetHe wrote: “We seem to be making another cover for privacy, especially in one case: politics is above the law and fundamental rights.

“It has failed twice before. What we have heard is a different “patchwork” approach, but no significant improvements from the US side. let’s wait sms but I [first] I bet he’ll fail again.”

Shrems is the famous and rightfully named Privacy Shield lipstick on a pig. So their assessment of the text when it comes out will probably carry more weight than the commission.

The tech industry’s reaction to the news of yet another relaunched data deal was predictably positive.

Google, which has been hard at work with Meta in recent months to find a viable deal for both parties, was quick to welcome the announcement.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the company told us:

“People want to be able to access digital services anywhere in the world and know that their information is safe when they communicate across borders. We appreciate the work of the European Commission and the US administration in agreeing on a new EU-US structure and enabling transatlantic data communications.

The tech industry association CCIA, which also lobbied hard to replace the Privacy Shield, hailed today’s announcement as “good news.” However, director Alexander Raur did not find the space in his response statement to express his displeasure with the upcoming EU rules on the reuse of industrial and connected equipment, which he says introduce new “data restrictions”.

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