The EU and
This new pact will “enable predictable and trustworthy data flows, balancing security, the right to privacy and data protection,”
While negotiators will still need to work out the finer details, the result could signal an end to the uncertainty over data flows that led Facebook owner Meta to warn of a potential withdrawal from the EU if the legal vacuum persisted.
The legal fears escalated when the EU Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court, in a surprise 2020 ruling toppled the so-called Privacy Shield, a trans-Atlantic transfer accord, over longstanding fears that citizens’ data wasn’t safe from American surveillance.
Even though judges upheld a separate contract-based system to keep transferring data, the doubts they expressed about American data protection made this a shaky alternative too.
The political agreement on Friday follows a visit by President
The breakthrough was aimed at ensuring data privacy and security and to protect data traffic “which formed the foundation of a $7.1 trillion economic relationship between the U.S. and the EU,” White House National Security Advisor
The accord “really puts us in a position to ensure that American technology firms -- big firms, yes, but especially small and medium sized firms -- will be protected as we go forward and can fully and safely operate within the context of the US-EU economic transatlantic economic relationship,” Sullivan said.
The EU court’s
Data transfers have been fraught with difficulty for years, with EU judges unafraid to weigh in. The EU top court in 2015 struck down an earlier trans-Atlantic data-transfer system, called Safe Harbor, over concerns U.S. spies could get unfettered access to EU data.
This time, the U.S. said it’s made “unprecedented commitments,” addressing the EU court’s concerns, including:
- Strengthening the privacy and civil liberties safeguards governing U.S. signals intelligence actions
- To create a new redress mechanism for EU citizens that acts independently and has binding authority
- Enhancing U.S. oversight of its communications gathering intelligence activities
- U.S. intelligence agencies will adopt ways to better oversee new privacy and civil liberties standards
The controversy stretches back to 2013, when former contractor
Schrems said on Friday he’s not convinced that the new draft accord would solve the problems of the previous ones and questioned the timing of the announcement.
“The deal was apparently a symbol that von der Leyen wanted, but does not have support among experts in Brussels, as the U.S. did not move,” he said in an emailed statement. “It is especially appalling that the U.S. has allegedly used the war on Ukraine to push the EU on this economic matter.”
(Updates with U.S. commitments details from 12th paragraph)
--With assistance from
To contact the reporter on this story:
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.