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Sep 22 2017

EU and U.S. Hold Privacy Shield Review

Over the past couple of days, representatives of the European Union and the United States have looked into the current state of the inner workings of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, the data exchange/data protection rules the two parties carved out after the European Court of Justice had scrapped its predecessor, the so-called Safe Harbor agreement, as a result of the NSA's and other agencies' mass surveillance.

This year's appraisal was the first in an anticipated long line of annual reviews that are supposed to improve the agreement and its implementation in a way that's acceptable for both sides – the U.S. and its predominant national security concerns and the Europeans with their comparatively strong focus on privacy and civil rights. More specifically, this time around the goal was to "investigate how US commitments are being met through exchanges on the underlying U.S. legal framework in place and on the functioning of the oversight mechanisms." What exactly transpired during the meeting remains somewhat unclear; however, the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová, and her counterpart Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who oversaw the review, issued the following joint statement:

"Brussels, 21 September 2017 – This week, officials from across the United States Government, the European Commission, and EU data protection authorities gathered in Washington, DC to conduct the first annual review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework established in 2016.

This first annual review marks an important milestone for the Framework and for U.S.-EU cooperation on data protection issues. The Privacy Shield raised the bar for transatlantic data protection by ensuring that participating companies and relevant public authorities provide a high level of data protection for EU individuals.

Since the program's inception, over 2,400 organizations have joined the Privacy Shield. U.S. and EU officials welcomed the information shared by Privacy Shield participants on Framework compliance, and by civil society and independent recourse mechanism providers. Officials noted that this input greatly informed the review process and will lead to continued improvements to the functioning of the program.

The review examined all aspects of the administration and enforcement of the Privacy Shield, including commercial and national-security related matters, as well as broader U.S. legal developments. Participants also discussed their respective work to implement the Privacy Shield program during its inaugural year, recognizing the value of regular communication between U.S. and EU authorities.

The United States and the European Union share an interest in the Framework's success and remain committed to continued collaboration to ensure it functions as intended."

Judging from this text, the only thing that's obvious is that there's lots of room for improvement. For more background info, check out the reports from Rebecca Hill and Kieren McCarthy over at The Register.


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