2015-10-07

Data Privacy: EU Court Strikes Down EU-US Safe Harbor, US Tech Losers

"... For all those reasons, the Court declares the Safe Harbour Decision invalid. This judgment has the consequence that the Irish supervisory authority is required to examine Mr Schrems’ complaint with all due diligence and, at the conclusion of its investigation, is to decide whether, pursuant to the directive, transfer of the data of Facebook’s European subscribers to the United States should be suspended on the ground that that country does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data." EU Court decision, October 6, 2015 (emphasis added)
Europe’s highest court has struck down the “safe harbor” agreement between the US and EU, which has potentially enormous negative consequences for all US companies involved in transfer of data from EU citizens to the US, e.g., Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc. 

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, immediately responded with following statement in response to the European Court of Justice decision regarding the "Safe Harbor Framework"--

“Since 2000, the Safe Harbor Framework has proven to be critical to protecting privacy on both sides of the Atlantic and to supporting economic growth in the United States and the EU. We are deeply disappointed in today’s decision from the European Court of Justice, which creates significant uncertainty for both U.S. and EU companies and consumers, and puts at risk the thriving transatlantic digital economy. Among other things, the decision does not credit the benefits to privacy and growth that have been afforded by this Framework over the last 15 years.

For the last two years, we have worked closely with the European Commission to strengthen the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, with robust and transparent protection, including clear oversight by the Department of Commerce and strong enforcement by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The court’s decision necessitates release of the updated Safe Harbor Framework as soon as possible.

We are prepared to work with the European Commission to address uncertainty created by the court decision so that the thousands of U.S. and EU businesses that have complied in good faith with the Safe Harbor and provided robust protection of EU citizens’ privacy in accordance with the Framework’s principles can continue to grow the world's digital economy.”

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