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New EU-US data protection 'umbrella' agreement 'on ice' until US passes new legislation

A new EU-US data protection 'umbrella' agreement has been finalised but will not be put to EU law makers to sanction until the US passes new legislation that would provide EU citizens with new privacy rights when their data is held by US law enforcement agencies, according to a new report.

Technology news outlet POLITICO reported that the European Commission will not ask the European Parliament and Council of Ministers to approve the new agreement until the US laws are implemented. The proposed reforms were laid before the US Senate for approval in June but have not yet been written into US law.

Until this happens the EU-US data protection 'umbrella' agreement will be "an agreed text on ice", a source told POLITICO.

The proposed 'umbrella' agreement, once finalised, will apply a privacy framework to personal data that is transferred from the EU to the US for use by US authorities for law enforcement purposes, such as the prevention and detection of crime and terrorism, and vice versa. The agreement itself will not authorise the data transfers but instead will set out privacy "guarantees and safeguards that must always apply" to the information, according to an EU factsheet (3-page / 937KB PDF).

Negotiations on the planned agreement opened in March 2011 but have yet to be concluded. EU officials have been reluctant to finalise the framework until the US gave EU citizens the opportunity to obtain judicial redress in the US where their data is mishandled by US authorities.

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