Privacy Shield yet to receive endorsement by EU countries' representatives

Out-Law News | 20 May 2016 | 4:32 pm | 1 min. read

A proposed new framework for facilitating the transfer of personal data between the EU and US has still to be endorsed by a data protection committee containing representatives from the national governments of EU countries.

The Article 31 Committee met with officials from the European Commission earlier this week and was due to be updated by the Commission on "the state of play on the EU-US Privacy Shield".

However, technology news site Ars Technica reported that the meeting was concluded without agreement being reached on whether the Privacy Shield should be deemed as providing for adequate data protection when personal data is transferred to the US from the EU in line with framework, as is required by EU law.

According to the Ars Technica report, further meetings are likely to be held between the Commission and Article 31 Committee later this month and into June. The Commission is in the process of amending the original Privacy Shield proposals to account for recommendations made by the Article 29 Working Party earlier this year, it said. The Working Party is a committee made up of representatives from national data protection authorities within the EU.

In April the Working Party said changes need to be made to the Privacy Shield before it can be said to provide for adequate data protection. It said the Privacy Shield does not protect sufficiently against bulk processing of EU citizens' data by US authorities. It said it is also still to be satisfied that a new ombudsperson, who would be tasked with handling complaints relating to the accessing of EU citizens' personal data by US intelligence agencies, would be independent.

In February when the EU-US Privacy Shield was first announced the Commission said that, once a draft adequacy decision was prepared, the new framework could be adopted "after obtaining the advice of the Article 29 Working Party and after consulting a committee composed of representatives of the member states" (the Article 31 Committee).

Data protection experts Kathryn Wynn and Niels Tacke of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, have warned that data transfers carried out in line with the Privacy Shield could be subject to legal challenge if changes are not made to the framework to address the Working Party's concerns.