Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework

What’s next for data transfers between US and EU?

Things are moving in the right direction to enable data flows between EU and US, and UK and US

Agreement in principle

U.S. President Biden and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have reached agreement in principle over a new trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework.  While this is encouraging, the process of drawing up the detail within the agreement is likely still to take several months.

The White House issued a statement. This demonstrated how the two core issues that caused previous agreements to break down have been addressed:

  • intelligence surveillance of EU personal data:  the U.S. is agreeing to limit its intelligence gathering activities to that which is necessary “to advance legitimate national security objectives”.
  • an effective remedy to address complaints raised about US authorities’ access to EU citizens data: the U.S. proposes to provide an independent Data Protection Review Court. This will include individuals from outside the US government

Whether these measures will be enough to satisfy the EU is unclear, and will depend on the detail of how these issues will be handled in practice.

What does this mean for the UK?

One of the ongoing considerations of the UK government is that of “adequacy decisions”.  UK adequacy decisions are designed to enable data transfers between the UK and countries which meet data protection standards equivalent to those in the UK.  The government has been considering implementing a number of new “adequacy” decisions, including the U.S.

However, there is always a tricky balance between UK issuing adequacy decisions, and the impact that may have on the UK adequacy decision in place with the EU. 

So from a UK perspective, an EU-US data transfer agreement will make it more straightforward for the UK and US will reach their own separate agreement to enable transfers between UK and US.  Or the UK may adopt the EU/US adequacy decision to retain parity with EU laws.  Watch this space…..

 

Victoria Tuffill

8th April 2022

 

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