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The Privacy Advisor | EU considers canceling trade, data flow talks with US Related reading: Hoff: EU, US 'not at the beginning' of Privacy Shield negotiations

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Data protection may not be at the forefront of global policy discussions, but it's certainly gaining importance and notoriety. So much so it's now being used as a potential bargaining chip in foreign relations and politics.

Two EU officials told Politico the planned EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council meeting Sept. 29 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is now in jeopardy with the EU threatening to cancel over issues between the U.S. and France related to a U.S.-U.K. submarine contract with Australia. The EU and the U.S. were expected to advance discussions on EU-U.S. data flows and a potential replacement for the invalidated EU-U.S. Privacy Shield program. 

"One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we want to know what happened and why," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview with CNN. "You first of all clarify that, before you keep on going with business as usual."

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton spoke with Financial Times on the potential break in TTC talks, noting he had heard calls from French officials to cancel but had no knowledge of the EU's plans to follow through on those plans. Breton opined there's "a growing feeling that something is broken in our transatlantic relations." Breton hopes for a reconciliation between parties, but added that "you don’t do this only by words, you do this by acts."

The TTC has been pegged as a gateway for the EU and U.S. to agree on the best path forward for trans-Atlantic data flows. Samuel Stolton wrote for The Privacy Advisor in June documenting the first meeting of the TCC and its potential to help solve data flow issues. However, an unnamed official told Stolton at the time that data transfer talks were not "mature" enough to reach an agreement, which makes the upcoming TCC meeting that much more crucial.

There's also controversy directly linked to EU-U.S. data transfer talks as there are perceived misinterpretations of how close the two sides are to a deal. As reported in Monday's Daily Dashboard, the EU is not as optimistic on closing a deal as the U.S. is at this point. There have been U.S. reports on real progress toward an agreement while the EU remains stuck on addressing U.S. surveillance laws permitting agencies access to personal data while in transit from the EU to the U.S.

Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

1 Comment

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  • comment Sam Butler • Sep 22, 2021
    Needless political games that do nothing to benefit real people. Yes, there may have been an economic interest for French workers employed in the shipbuilding industry were France to provide submarines to Australia, but at the end of the day that's a primarily commercial transaction and most of the money would be to the benefit of the super-rich.