February 4, 2016 | Bryan Barajas

On February 2nd, European Union (EU) Commission officials Andrus Ansip and Vera Jourova announced that the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce have reached a new transatlantic data transfer agreement between the EU and the United States.

In October 2015, the European Court of Justice invalidated the Safe Harbor pact between the EU and the U.S., ruling that the U.S. did not adequately safeguard the data of EU citizens (previously reported). In his announcement of the agreement, Ansip said, “The EU and U.S. are the closest allies, and on a topic as important as this, we had to find common solutions. I believe this new arrangement… is what Europe needs. Both our citizens and our businesses will benefit from this.” Ansip also indicated that the new agreement, known as the “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield,” addresses the EU’s concerns about U.S. intelligence surveillance of European data, a major point of contention during the negotiations.

According to Ansip, “The U.S. has clarified that they do not carry out indiscriminate surveillance of Europeans.” However, the agreement does allow for a “national security exception” for surveillance .

Other provisions of Privacy Shield include a “redress scheme” that allows EU citizens who believe their data has been misused to seek redress with the Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the creation of an ombudsman within the State Department who will address complaints related to intelligence surveillance.

 Jourova announced that the agreement also includes an annual review process to allow “real-time adjustments” to Privacy Shield. The deal must now be approved by the 28 EU member states and the European Parliament, a process which could take three months.



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