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EU-U.S. data pact faces first major test of credibility

EU-U.S. data pact faces first major test of credibility
From Reuters - September 16, 2017

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A pact underpinning billions of dollars of transatlantic data transfers will undergo its first annual review on Monday, with Europe seeking to ensure Washington has lived up to its promises to protect the data of European citizens stored on U.S. servers.

Feted as a milestone in transatlantic relations, which had soured after revelations of mass U.S. surveillance four years ago, the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield data pact has been in place for just over a year.

It was hammered out after the European Unions top court struck down a previous data transfer pact in 2015 because it allowed U.S. spies excessive access to peoples data, plunging everyday cross-border data transfers into legal limbo.

However, it is already subject to two legal challenges in European courts on the grounds that it does not offer adequate privacy protections for European citizens data, and EU data protection watchdogs have also expressed misgivings.

The first annual review taking place on Monday and Tuesday will be an opportunity for the European Commission, which negotiated the Privacy Shield, to ensure it is functioning well and that the U.S. administration is keeping its part of the deal.

My expectation is that we will find Privacy Shield functioning, we might find some space or room for improvement, Vera Jourova, EU Justice Commissioner, told Reuters in an interview.

OMBUDSMAN

The Privacy Shield seeks to strengthen the protection of Europeans whose data is moved to U.S. servers by giving EU citizens greater means to seek redress in case of disputes, including through a new privacy ombudsman within the State Department who will deal with complaints from EU citizens about U.S. spying.

However a new ombudsman has not been appointed under the new U.S. administration, something Jourova said she will push for.

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