• April 1, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmarCustomerService.com

U.S. Strikes Data Deal with Europe

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Just slightly more than three months after the European Union's Court of Justice threw out the long-standing Safe Harbor Agreement for the sharing of consumer data between the United States and Europe, a new deal was put in place. The European Union in early February agreed to a deal that reinstates the free flow of consumers' digital data on both sides of the Atlantic.

Under the deal, the U.S. will provide written guarantees that U.S. intelligence agencies will not have free access to data coming out of Europe.

The U.S. also granted the Department of Commerce oversight for how U.S. firms implement the agreement and agreed to appoint an official in the State Department to address grievances by Europeans who believe that U.S. entities are misusing their data. Europeans can also challenge U.S. rulings with their own local data commissioners; U.S. firms will have to comply with orders from those data commissioners.

At press time, the deal still had to be ratified by the 28 countries that make up the E.U. Several European privacy advocacy groups were preparing to fight it.

Some of those same advocates filed legal action that led to the October decision by the European court to overturn the Safe Harbor Agreement that had been in place since 2000. The court ruled at the time that U.S. data protections were inferior to those in Europe and lacked proper government and judicial oversight.

If formally approved, the new deal, called the EU-US Privacy Shield, will go into effect in early April.

In a statement, U.S. Commerce secretary Penny Pritzker called the deal "a major achievement for privacy and for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic." She added, "It provides certainty that will help grow the digital economy."

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