EU and US Negotiators Close To Finalising A Safer “Safe Harbour”

BY Christian Borggreen
July 23, 2015

Brussels — U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met in Brussels Thursday with Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality to revitalise negotiations on a framework for commercial data transfers.

More than 3,000 European and U.S. companies use the 15 year old Safe Harbour framework for commercial data transfers.  Safe Harbour certification is enforced by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regularly brings cases to ensure compliance.  The framework is essential for facilitating trade and digital commerce between the world’s two biggest trading partners, the EU and the U.S.

Europe and the U.S. aim to finalise their Safe Harbour discussions “in the coming weeks,” an EU press release stated.  Commissioner Jourova welcomed progress to strengthening privacy protections for Europeans as their data is transferred.  She said that stronger enforcement, more transparency, clearer rules on transfers and easier redress possibilities will more effectively protect Europeans’ data.

CCIA has long been advocating in favor of an improved Safe Harbour framework as part of an effort to enhance transatlantic trust.  We welcome today’s announcement by Commissioner Jourová and Secretary Pritzker to finalise Safe Harbour discussions in the coming weeks.  An improved Safe Harbour will send a strong signal that it is possible to enhance privacy standards while ensuring the free flow of data that underpins international trade and economic growth.

While confidence in the existing Safe Harbour framework was shaken in the wake of the Snowden revelations in 2013, the agreement was never implicated in a single government surveillance disclosure.  Regardless, following these revelations, the technology industry has fought to ensure that the privacy rights of Internet users are protected and respected in the context of a revised framework.  In addition to advocacy for improved transatlantic data transfers, CCIA has encouraged surveillance reform in the U.S., in Europe, and globally.

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