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US, EU reach agreement on Safe Harbor alternative

Katherine Noyes | Feb. 2, 2016
The agreement on the new Privacy Shield framework will make it easier for companies to transfer data between Europe and the U.S.

Though it was applauded by the U.S. Direct Marketing Association and Microsoft President and Chief Legal OfficerBrad Smith, reactions elsewhere were decidedly less enthusiastic about the new agreement. 

"We urgently need a thorough legal appraisal of the safeguards offered by the U.S.," said Sophie in 't Veld, vice president and spokesperson for data protection for the Alliance of Liberal Democrats in Europe. "The legal status of these safeguards is very unclear. It is highly doubtful that they offer meaningful protection to European citizens."

Similarly, "the emperor is trying on a new set of clothes," said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights. "Today's announcement means that European citizens and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic face an extended period of uncertainty while waiting for this new stop-gap solution to fail." 

At least one U.S. company was also skeptical.

"European attitudes toward data privacy have not changed, and we suspect it will only be a matter of time before Safe Harbor 2.0 is challenged in court," said Yorgen Edholm, CEO of Accellion. "Ultimately, the practice of trans-Atlantic data transfer will remain controversial as long as there remains a fundamental difference of opinion between the U.S. and the EU on what is more important: national security or data privacy. We don't believe Safe Harbor 2.0 will end this debate."

Meanwhile, Europe's data protection authorities were meeting on Tuesday, a day before they are scheduled to publish an evaluation on how recent changes in U.S. law affect trans-Atlantic data transfer using alternative legal mechanisms. They will likely also offer an opinion on the Privacy Shield deal.

Source: Infoworld 

 

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