Washington — In a speech to staff, incoming Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spoke about his support for Privacy Shield, the agreement that allows data transfers between the European Union and the United States, according to news reports. This was no doubt well received by staff who spent countless hours negotiating this new agreement last year after a European high court found the previous method companies used to be invalid.
The former special counsel to Commerce’s general counsel, Brian Hengesbaugh, who helped negotiate the original data transfer deal that preceded Privacy Shield, told Bloomberg BNA this week that Ross deeply understands “the importance of Privacy Shield for the U.S. and the global digital economy.”
Privacy Shield is now the primary means for American companies to transport digital goods between the US and Europe. Trade in transatlantic digital services alone is valued at more than $260 billion annually. The scope of the additional value from the range of traditional goods and services trade enabled by cross-border information flows has not been fully calculated.
Data flows between the EU and U.S. are a high priority because Europe is the United State’s most valuable partner. Data flows between the EU and U.S. are the highest in the world—50 percent greater than those between the U.S. and Asia.
Ross indicated support for Privacy Shield during his confirmation hearing, but even so, this latest reiteration of support is reassuring for the thousands of companies from sectors ranging from insurance to healthcare to financial services and the tech sector that depend on this agreement to transfer online data.