Webcon Ad_300x250_Radar_FINAL

By Jan Dhont and Katie Woodcock

On June 6, the European Union (EU) Justice Council held a press conference in Luxembourg where Vice-President of the European Commission (EC) Viviane Reding spoke on the progress of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As a reminder, the EC issued the draft GDPR text in January 2012. This text was considered by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the so-called LIBE Committee. It issued a compromise text with numerous amendments, which was endorsed by a plenary vote of the outgoing European Parliament on March 12, 2014. Currently, we are waiting for the council to define its position prior to the trilogue discussions between the European Parliament, commission and council.

Her speech indicates that the EU is inching closer in its legislative process on the GDPR; however, the formal approval remains far off. Reding confirmed the council has agreed on two pillars of the GDPR: cross-border data transfer rules and its territorial scope.

For the cross-border transfers of personal data, the GDPR will have three means to make transfers legal:

  1. Adequacy determination
  2. Where appropriate safeguards exist, e.g., use of model contracts, BCRs, possibly an EU privacy seal, etc.
  3. In certain specified situations, e.g., tax, competition investigations, on the basis of mutual legal assistance treaties or MLATs

For the territorial scope, the GDPR will apply to all companies doing business in the European Single Market. Similar to U.S. long-arm statutes and its International Shoe case, this means that “EU data protection law will apply to non-European companies if they do business” on the territory of the EU. Exactly how this will be applied in practice has not yet come to light. Nevertheless, it is clear that the GDPR will reach out to Internet service providers operating in the EU, e.g., Google.

Currently, a sticking point is the “one-stop shop” principle. Reding indicated that the council is “coming closer to the model for such a system”; however, how the relationship between the lead data protection authority and the other member states’ authorities will be structured is a challenging hurdle.

The Q&A session of her speech focused on Snowden/NSA revelations and the status of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Framework. Reding revealed that in terms of the negations on data protection with the U.S., “95 percent of what could be agreed—has been.” The rest, which they have not yet reached an accord on, relates to judicial redress of Europeans in U.S. courts, as “EU citizen(s) cannot … go to an American court. There is no reciprocity.” She also declared that this issue “is exactly what I will discuss with Eric Holder on 25 June.”

In terms of Safe Harbor, she emphasized that it is the commission’s responsibility to negotiate this point and that of the 13 points recommended to improve the Safe Harbor Framework back in November 2013, “12 have been agreed, the 13th one is the national security exception—for me it is an exception not a rule.” Finally, in response to the revelations of Vodafone access requests from governments and setting the tone for government access to personal data, Reding declares, “data access should always be framed by clear laws or judicial warrants. There should not be unregulated, direct and automatic mass access by law enforcement authorities to data of citizens held by private companies. Only where there is a clear suspicion. Not with a hoover but with tweezers.”

The full speech is available here.

Jan Dhont is a partner at Lorenz Brussels. He may be reached at

Katie Woodcock is a senior associate at Lorenz Brussels. She may be reached at

Written By

Jan Dhont


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with other privacy pros, dive deep into a specialized topic or simply share a common interest, IAPP Communities are for you.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

NEW! Raise Staff Awareness

Equip all your data-handling staff to reduce privacy risk, with Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

Upcoming Web Conferences

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Team

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

NEW! FIP Designation

Recognizing the advanced knowledge and issue-spotting skills a privacy pro must attain in today’s complex world of data privacy.

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Schooled in Privacy

Looking to get some higher-ed in privacy? Check out these schools that include data privacy courses in their curricula.

Privacy Vendor List

Find a privacy vendor to meet your needs with our filterable list of global service providers.

NEW! Raise Staff Awareness

Equip all your data-handling staff to reduce privacy risk, with Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials.

The Industry of Privacy

Take stock, compare your practices to those of other organizations, and get budget with these studies on the industry of privacy.

More Resources »

Time to Get to Work at the Congress

Thought leadership, a thriving community and unrivaled education...the Congress prepares you for the challenges ahead. Register today.

GDPR Comprehensive London: Register Onsite for In-Person or Online for Virtual

Online registration for in-person attendance is now closed. For in-person, register onsite the day of. For virtual, register online throughout the programme.

Call for Speakers at Summit 2017

Are you an engaging speaker with privacy expertise to share? We want you! Submit a proposal today! The Call for Speakers closes Oct. 2, 2016.

GDPR's Top Impacts - Webcon Delivered in French

Rejoignez des experts pour en savoir plus : Les 10 conséquences pratiques les plus importantes du RGPD. S’inscrire maintenant.

Intensive Education at the Practical Privacy Series

The Series is returning to DC, this year spotlighting Data Breach, FTC and Consumer Privacy, GDPR and Government privacy issues. It’s the education you need now!

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»