Greetings from Brussels!
We’ve heard this story before: Reuters is reporting that a new agreement on Safe Harbour is imminent. Of course, people—including former European Commission VP Viviane Reding—have been saying this going two years back. Has it now gotten to the point where you’ll have to see it to believe it?
As a quick catch-up, Safe Harbour is a data transfer agreement between the EU and the U.S. that goes back to 2000, allowing some 4,000 companies, both American and European, to transfer personal data between the two jurisdictions. However, following the Snowden revelations in 2013, the Commission, and many others in the EU, became concerned about the agreement’s efficacy and called for a review, which resulted in 13 required changes for the agreement to continue. The sticky wicket here involves the U.S. granting Europeans some kind of judicial redress in the U.S. and the end to government spying programs like PRISM.
A number of people have despaired for Safe Harbour’s future.
However, we continue to hear that the EU and U.S., both of which have more than a small interest in the agreement continuing, are close to a deal. This makes good sense: We can’t have 4,000 companies left with no good way of doing the everyday business of human resources and managing health plans and expect business to continue as usual.
The USA FREEDOM Act was a big first step toward agreement, and now we hear that the new deal would allow for both sides to monitor companies under the agreement and make sure that U.S. authorities’ access to Europeans’ data is properly limited. Will it stick? Let’s hope we find out once and for all when everyone’s back from their August holidays.
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