Negotiations continue on E.U.-U.S. “Safe Harbor” data transfer agreement

Robust reform is needed for a new agreement that could resist legal challenge

Brussels, Belgium ​- Today the European Commission announced that talks will continue on a new E.U.-U.S. data transfer agreement with the United States, the so-called Safe Harbor 2.0. The Commission announced that it is close to a deal and that more information will be released tomorrow. There has already been three months of intense negotiations following the invalidation of the previous Safe Harbor agreement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”).

“For months the negotiators have tried to find a political solution to a legal problem and completely disregarded the need for systemic reforms,” said Estelle Massé, European Policy Analyst at Access Now. “For the time being, any deal would not likely resist future legal challenges. Only a few of the privacy and surveillance reforms that are needed to secure an agreement have been implemented.”

The ruling that invalidated the Safe Harbor agreement called for heightened guarantees on the protection of users’ privacy. This means that additional data protections are necessary, including at a minimum implementing the 2013 recommendations of the European Commission, as well as additional robust surveillance reforms. However, after the ruling, instead of taking seriously their obligation to engage meaningfully on these topics, the U.S. and several E.U. member states, from the Netherlands to France, to Austria and the U.K., have taken huge strides backward, enacting sweeping new laws that perpetuate the global surveillance society.

“We are heartened by some of the benchmarks announced today, in particular the requirement that U.S. non-domestic surveillance adhere to international human rights principles, including that it must be strictly necessary and proportionate,” said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “While we believe significant legislative change will ultimately be necessary to any long-standing agreement, these are good first steps. ”

Additional Resources:

“No Safe Harbour 2.0 without reform on both sides of the Atlantic”
U.S. Congress begins responding to a post “Safe Harbor” world