Brussels and Washington have reached an agreement in principle on a revised successor agreement to “Privacy Shield,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. President Joe Biden announced on March 25th during Biden’s visit to Brussels.
Since the European Court of Justice overturned the “Privacy Shield” agreement in July 2020 over concerns that data would not be safe from access by U.S. authorities after being transferred across the Atlantic, negotiators have been working on an agreement that would allow the transfer of personal data from Europeans to the United States.
“Data protection commissioners in Germany welcome the fact that the EU and the U.S. have reached an agreement in principle on a new framework for transatlantic data traffic,” said Thomas Spaeing, chairman of the German Association of Data Protection Officers (BvD). “The announcement is certainly a ray of hope for countless data protection commissioners at first, who are confronted with increasing legal uncertainty in their consulting work when it comes to transferring data to the U.S.”
The association sees the European Court of Justice’s case law to date on previous transatlantic agreements as confirming the very high level of protection for personal data and the rights and freedoms of data subjects established by the European General Data Protection Regulation. At the same time, he said, this has massive practical implications, as transfers of personal data between the U.S. and the EU are an important basis for global trade and the unrestricted use of online services, which continue to be offered primarily out of the U.S.
Officials on both sides of the Atlantic had struggled to bridge an impasse over what it means to give Europeans an effective legal remedy against surveillance by U.S. authorities. Not all of those issues have been resolved, although von der Leyen’s comments suggest that technical solutions are within reach. “In that respect. it remains to be seen to what extent this new agreement will hold up in court. I think one should not have too high expectations here until details about the agreement are known.”