Brussels, BELGIUM — Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe has issued a non-binding opinion in response to a case involving data transfers that are used to process information like credit card transactions or insurance claims. The case examined whether so-called Standard Contractual Clauses provide sufficient protection to EU citizens’ data when transferred outside the European Union. Standard Contractual Clauses (“SCCs”) are an EU instrument used by thousands of European and international companies to transfer data outside Europe, including over 150 countries which are not deemed “adequate” by the European Commission.
Although this opinion is non-binding, the EU Court of Justice tends to follow the conclusions of the Advocate General.
In today’s opinion, the AG said that SCCs provide sufficient protection to citizens’ data as long as they are duly enforced by national data protection authorities. Companies which choose to implement SCCs must implement organisational and technical measures and divide up their respective data protection obligations. The laws of the country of destination may also offer additional safeguards, including limitations and judicial redress mechanisms when data is accessed by non-EU authorities for reasons of national security. Finally, European data protection authorities can enforce SCCs, including the prohibition or temporary suspension of data flows if they have serious concerns that SCC cannot be complied with because of foreign legislation.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has been a longtime advocate for stronger privacy safeguards and the need for data transfers between the E.U. and the rest of the world.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Senior Policy Manager Alexandre Roure:
“AG Saugmandsgaard Øe has found that Standard Contractual Clauses provide strong protection when data is transferred outside the EU and it is the responsibility of national authorities to enforce them. This is good news for European internet users and businesses as Standard Contractual Clauses are the only viable and affordable instrument for European companies to transfer data beyond the dozen countries the EU deems adequate.”
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