“This is significant progress, which I hope will be instrumental towards bridging the transatlantic digital gap. A protracted stalemate would have jeopardized numerous companies and it would have made the use of many internet platforms and social media more difficult. This reform has the potential to restore a degree of necessary trust. But we’ll first have to put it into practice!”
Following the revelations by Edward Snowden, Viviane Reding, then Commissioner in charge of Justice, launched in 2013 the reform of Safe Harbour, which governed the exchange of data for commercial purposes between the European Union and the United States. Today the Commission formally adopts the “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield”. Even though the new tool is far from perfect, Viviane Reding underlines the improvements in comparison to the previous framework.
This decision clarifies the nature of the data that are stored, the period within which they can be used as well as the conditions of their transfer to third parties, it imposes more rigorous monitoring and oversight (by the American authorities in cooperation with national data protection authorities) and opens more avenues to seek legal redress.
“Nine out of ten European citizens would like to see a higher level of protection for their personal data, whatever the location of the server on which they are stored. This is not an insignificant topic! Personal data have become the new currency of the digital economy. This decision foresees many safeguards for E-consumers.
Now the written commitments should be fully respected and implemented on both sides of the Atlantic. The solidity of the system depends on it, and will have to be judged on the basis of a thorough assessment, taking into account concrete results at the latest in one year, in the context of the yearly joint evaluation. If our American partners don’t keep their promises, the Commission should quickly draw the appropriate conclusions. While doubts persist concerning the access of American public authorities to transferred data, let’s turn this Privacy Shield into a living agreement that can be reinforced where and when necessary, to finally end mass-surveillance!
Europe and the US have to collaborate towards the creation of solid frameworks and international standards, beginning with a state-of-the-art reference framework for data-protection.”