Safe Harbor Negotiations Update Posted by Mike on 27 January 2016

Negotiations between EU Commission and US officials are going down to the wire at the moment, as both sides scramble to come up with an agreed framework to replace Safe Harbor.

Ever since the Courts of Justice found Safe Harbor to be invalid, the clock has been ticking on finding an alternative method of data sharing. In the meantime, multi-nationals, and other organisations, who continue to send data to the US are finding themselves in an ever precarious position with regards to the legality of, and inherent risk with, such processing.

In addition the Article 29 Working Party, representing 44 of the data protection regulators throughout the EU, have given clear indication that if an agreement is not in place by the end of January 2016, they will be left with no option but to begin enforcing restrictions around data sharing to the US. 

This, clearly, places a number of household names in a quandary, with regards to exposure to fines, and enforcement notices, all of which could seriously hamper commercial activity across the Atlantic.

As things currently stand, the fundamental gap between the US and the EU lies over how it could be possible to allow EU citizens seek legal redress in the US, over breaches of EU data protection legislation.

According to the EU, their core proposals have been on the table for over two years, and long before the Courts of Justice ruling, but that the US have failed to significantly move on any of these recommendations.

In addition the European Courts of Justice required the Commission to look at the new framework within the context of US law, as well as seeking a commitment to work with the intelligence agencies, but fundamentally failed to provide specific findings on US law.

So, all of this clearly has added to the woes of getting significant movement by the end of this month, and all indications are that this will not happen.

How the Article 29 Working Party responds to this will be interesting, considering the announcements they made on this last year.