Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
The Commission is particularly mindful of foreign legislation whose possible extraterritorial application could jeopardise the fundamental right to data protection in the EU. As a matter of international public law, no foreign legal act can overrule relevant EU or Member States laws. Any processing of personal data in the EU has thus to respect applicable EU data protection rules. Monitoring of compliance with these rules lies primarily with the national authorities of each Member State, such as their data protection supervisory authority.
The Commission believes that international agreements between the EU and its Member States and the US are and should continue to be the appropriate channel of cooperation to transfer personal data for law enforcement purposes. To that end, it will continue to explore with its international counterparts ways of improving the efficiency of these channels of cooperation that provide for appropriate data protection guarantees. These issues are regularly raised with the US authorities, notably in the context of the negotiation of an EU-US agreement on the exchange of personal data between judicial and police authorities that should provide a high level of data protection for all individuals.
The Commission also duly took into account these concerns in the comprehensive reform package of data protection rules. The proposed General Data Protection Regulation(1) refers to the issue of foreign extraterritorial legislation, making clear that data transfers should only be allowed where the conditions of the regulation for an international transfer are met, including where the disclosure is necessary on important grounds of public interest recognised by the Union law or the law of a Member State.
Proposal for a regulation by the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation), COM(2012) 11 final.