Patching Holes in the ‘Privacy Shield’: EU-US Pact on Personal Data Again Under Fire

Written by | Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

The new EU-US Privacy Shield deal managing the transfer of personal data between both sides of the Atlantic will be scrutinized and legally challenged for the second time. Following the trial initiated by the Irish group Digital Rights Ireland, three French advocacy groups – La Quadrature du Net, non-profit French Data Network and its Federation FDN industry – have again challenged the adoption of the pact by the European Commission at the Luxembourg-based General Court.

The first Privacy Shield’s dispute was settled earlier this year after the European Union’s highest court had struck down the previous Safe Harbor Principles used by firms to enable them to transfer Europeans’ personal data to the United States amidst concerns about the US surveillance of online data.

The new deal enables companies to store the data of Europeans on American servers – everything ranging from browsing histories, flight tickets to human resources information. The deal basically clears the way for storage and transfer of data under tough EU private data transfer rules. The pact also seeks to boost privacy protection for EU nationals and establish the new position of privacy ombudsman within the State Department. More than 500 companies have signed up to the deal, including tech majors such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

However, the new critics say that the Privacy Shield does not do a good job when it comes to dealing with restrictions on US surveillance activities, which are seen as inadequate. The EU law gives EU citizens the right to challenge EU acts before the EU courts if they are directly concerned. However, there is a risk that in this case the court will not find that the associations are directly concerned.


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