The EU-US Privacy Shield offers legal certainty in free trade and the protection of data; jeopardising it now would be a step back for European businesses and citizens. However, as the European Commission has also underlined in the past, there is room for improvement and a number of issues have to be addressed in order to ensure its maximum benefit.
A Report on the functioning of the EU-US Privacy Shield, which creates a framework for the safe transfer of data between EU and US companies, will be voted on tomorrow in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Axel Voss MEP, the EPP Group Spokesman on the topic, insists that the Privacy Shield is an irreplaceable tool which helps European businesses and protects our citizens, and for this reason, our focus should be on improving, not abolishing it.
“The Report we will vote on tomorrow correctly points out a few outstanding issues in the functioning of the Privacy Shield on the US side, such as better monitoring of companies' compliance with their obligations and conducting regular searches for companies making false claims about their participation in the Privacy Shield. Nevertheless, we must not forget that over the last two years, the Privacy Shield has protected data transferred between almost 3000 certified European and US companies. It decreases the administrative burden for businesses and keeps a safe environment for citizens’ data when, for example, a European travel agency and an American hotel need to exchange names, contact details and credit card numbers about their clients.”
Reacting to the draft Report, Voss stressed: “While it is true that the US must do more and faster in delivering on their commitments in the supervisory of the framework, we now know, after a deep revision, that large parts of the Privacy Shield have proven functional and secure. The criticism that delayed nominations within the US Administration have prevented the agreement from functioning properly or that adequate safeguards are not provided, are simply not true.”
Axel Voss is aware of the questions Cambridge Analytica, certified under the Privacy Shield, raised as regards the functioning of the Privacy Shield: “As any law, the Privacy Shield arrangement will not entirely prevent future data breaches. However, the sanctions it provides for violations, including the ultimate removal of companies from the Privacy Shield list, will have a deterrent effect. Affected companies will have to revert to other legal bases for transfers such as binding corporate rules, which take years to be approved. The Privacy Shield also represents an effective tool allowing for quick EU-US information sharing about such cases, including Cambridge Analytica. We therefore expect the US authorities to take clear and strict action against all companies who do not comply with the Privacy Shield without punishing European companies who comply with the rules by setting trade barriers.”
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 219 Members from 28 Member States