EU-US Privacy Shield: the Commission must act to ensure adequate data protection, says Civil Liberties Committee Chair 

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European Court of Justice ruling on the EU-US Privacy Shield confirms Parliament’s concerns on the lack of an adequate level of protection afforded by the data exchange deal.

The European Court of Justice announced its ruling today declaring invalid the Commission decision on the adequacy of the EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework for regulating transatlantic exchanges of personal data for commercial purposes. The Civil Liberties Committee Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) commented on the ruling: “The Commission must inform the Parliament and the citizens without delay about the effects of this important ruling. It has to clarify what it intends to do to ensure that the fundamental rights of individuals are effectively protected.”

The judgement confirms the concerns reiterated on numerous occasions by the Parliament about the lack of an adequate level of protection afforded by the EU-US Privacy Shield. For example, in its resolution in July 2018, the Parliament stated that the EU-US deal on transfer of personal data does not provide the adequate level of protection required by Union’s data protection law and the EU Charter.

The Civil Liberties Committee has also conveyed its concerns linked to the deficiencies on the EU-US Privacy Shield to the US authorities during its missions to the US. It specifically raised issues linked to limitations on the protection of personal by US domestic law on the access and use by US public authorities, surveillance programmes and bulk collection of personal data and the Ombudsperson mechanism.

In this regard, Mr. López Aguilar said: “Transfers of personal data across the Atlantic are essential for both the EU and the US. The adoption of a Federal data protection law by the US Congress could certainly contribute to overcome these problems by creating in the US a strong data protection framework.”

Mr López Aguilar also stated that this judgment may affect other instruments relating to EU-US data exchanges for law enforcement, such as the so called “umbrella agreement” or the on-going negotiating EU-US cloud evidence agreement. “It is thus important for the Commission to present as soon as possible a clear and detailed assessment of the implications of the judgement on these instruments”, López Aguilar concluded. He also promised to invite Commissioner Didier Reynders to attend a Civil Liberties Committee meeting to inform the Members accordingly.