EU - US Privacy Shield Update 19/04/16


Top Industry Reactions

Last week a number of big players reacted to the amended Safe Harbor agreement, the EU-US Privacy Shield. – (read our previous Privacy shield updates here)

Microsoft came out as the first major US tech company to back the Privacy Shield. Speaking on behalf of Microsoft, John Frank, Vice President of EU Government Affairs posted to the company blog.

“We recognize that privacy rights need to have effective remedies. We have reviewed the Privacy Shield documentation in detail, and we believe wholeheartedly that it represents an effective framework and should be approved.”

The blog post also alluded to some concerns that more could be done to protect EU-US citizens’ data.

We continue to believe today that additional steps will be needed to build upon the Privacy Shield after it is adopted

This concern was shared by the Article 29 Working Party, a group of data protection representatives, elected by each EU member state to give counsel with regards to data protection.

On Wednesday, after two days of meetings, the group released a press statement in response to the Privacy Shield.

While they assert that  ‘significant improvements’ have been made, building on the previous Safe Harbor, much of their official statement centered around the ‘strong concerns’ on the broad wording of the document and the role the newly appointed Ombudsman will play.

"We believe that we don't have enough security [or] guarantees in the status of the ombudsperson and in their effective powers to be sure that this is really an independent authority

While the group does not reject the current privacy shield, they do call for revisions in order to meet their current concerns.

The group’s recommendations are not binding on EU law, rather they provide an authoritative opinion to the member states. This now creates a headache for the EU commission who must either accept the Privacy Shield as it is, against Article 29’s counsel, or go back to the drawing board and try to negotiate changes to the agreement in accordance with Article 29’s recommendations.

The EU member states are expected to vote on the shield in June.

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