The European Commission stated on 6 November, that it would like to have a new framework agreement concerning data transfers between the EU and the US concluded within 3 months´ time. The negotiations have been ongoing since the Snowden revelations, but the recent decision of the Court of Justice of the EU concerning the so-called Safe Harbor speeded the process. Under the Safe Harbor, companies were allowed to transfer data quasi freely if they declared respect of this arrangement. The EU court, however, scrapped this possibility. It also gave local data protection authorities more powers over data transfers. The Commission stated immediately after the court ruling, that alternatives exist that make transfers possible. Last week, the EU executive published a summary of such other possibilities. They include contractual clauses and binding corporate rules for multinationals. These, however, are subject to approval of the data protection authority in every EU state, from which the given data is to be transferred. The Safe Harbor bypassed this fragmented authority and gave companies an EU-wide measure – which is why many businesses push for the new framework to be concluded as soon as possible. Some even see 3 months as too long.
Meanwhile, some data protection authorities, for example in the German Länder, declared that they would not authorize any such transfers from Germany. This in effect leaves companies willing to process EU citizens´ data only two options. Either to resort to the not at all bulletproof solution of a freely given consent to transfer by the individual, to whom the data relates, or to store and process EU citizens´ data inside the EU. It has been reported, that some multinationals are investing in EU datacenters to that end.
New data protection rules are in the legislative process. The new general data protection regulation and the enforcement directive are at the final stage, awaiting final approval by the Council. The EU authorities made the adoption a priority and aim for the process to conclude before the end of 2015.
20th February 2019
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