Safe Harbour ruling: MEPs called for clarity and effective protection
On Wednesday night, MEPs debated the impact of the recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that the Safe Harbour agreement on data transfers to the US is not safe with Commissioner Jourova and Mr Schmit from the Luxembourg EU Presidency. MEPs called on the Commission to clarify the legal situation following the ruling and demanded immediate action to ensure effective data protection for EU citizens.
Following a complaint against facebook by an Austrian citizen, Max Schrems, the European Court of Justice ruled on 6 October that the Commission's "adequacy decision" was invalid since the Safe Harbour agreement does not offer a level of data protection equivalent to the level of protection in place in the EU. In particular, the Court found that the access enjoyed by the US intelligence services to the transferred data interferes with 'the right to respect for private life and the right to protection of personal data'.
Watch the video recording of the debate here.
Note to editors
The 2000 Safe Harbour agreement allows companies to transfer European citizens' private data to the US if they vouch for adequate privacy protection as set out in the agreement. More than 4000 companies currently use Safe Harbour for the transfer of data, including firms like Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
Following a complaint by Austrian citizen Max Schrems, the European Court of Justice declared on 6 October that the Commission's Safe Harbour decision is invalid. In his complaint, Mr Schrems argues that the Snowden revelations of the NSA data collection programme PRISM, which sees EU citizens' data held by US companies passed on to US intelligence agencies, calls into question the adequacy of the data protection provided by Safe Harbour.
Following Snowden's revelations, the European Commission in November 2013 issued 13 recommendations to restore trust in Safe Harbour and make it safer.
Parliament has repeatedly called for the suspension of Safe Harbour, most recently in its 2014 resolution on the surveillance carried out by the NSA.