Data Protection Chiefs Warn European Commission

Data Protection Chiefs Warn European Commission

Since the European Commission adopted the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield in 2016, replacing Safe Harbor, more than 2,000 companies have signed up for the new framework to avoid infringing on European privacy rights. Now that framework is up for its first review this September in the United States, and the EU’s data privacy chiefs, or Article 29 Working Party (WP29), have issued their strong views and recommendations to the EC.

Per a Tech Crunch report, the DP chiefs’ published concerns are “a warning shot across the bow of the executive body of the Union.” They do not want the EC “to try to make the review a pantomime, tick-box exercise.” Instead, the group wants a complete and thorough assessment of the Privacy Shield, which has already had its critics and legal challenges. Plus, says Tech Crunch, it’s an arrangement that is particularly precarious with a new U.S. president with well-known views on the rights of non-Americans. This is reflected in the WP29’s published statement.

“Regarding the law enforcement and national security part, the WP29 has questions relating in particular to the latest developments of US law and jurisprudence in the field of privacy. The WP29 also seeks, inter alia, precise evidence to show that bulk collection, when it exists, is ‘as tailored as feasible,’ limited and proportionate.”

The WP29 also included in its statement a recommended list of U.S. authorities that should be invited to participate in the Joint Review.

An EC spokesman responded to this statement with its own to Tech Crunch:

“We will take this input into account in our preparations of the review. It is already foreseen by the Commission’s adequacy decision (Privacy Shield decision) that the data protection authorities will participate in the review.”

WP29 acknowledges that even more questions may arise during the scheduled two- to three-day process. During this time, a number of areas are expected to be covered, again per Tech Crunch, among them reviewing how U.S. companies comply with their data protection obligations and the mechanisms in place to ensure complaints are handled swiftly.

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