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European Parliament voices concerns on the EU-US Privacy Shield

Van Dyck Peter
Peter Van Dyck



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27 May 2016

us-eu-privacy-sheild-185x185On 26 May 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU-US Privacy Shield.

The European Parliament starts by stressing the importance of the economic relationship between the EU and the US, citing a total transatlantic trade in 2014 valued at USD 1,09 trillion. As such, the European Parliament underlines that having a streamlined procedure to transfer personal data from the EU to the US is “an essential component underpinning the close links between the European Union and the United States”.

Although the European Parliament welcomes the efforts made by the European Commission and the US administration to achieve substantial improvements in the EU-US Privacy Shield (compared to the now invalidated Safe Harbour regime), it voices several serious concerns on the EU-US Privacy Shield. The main concerns (which are very similar to the concerns voiced in last month’s opinion of the Article 29 Working Party) include the following:


  • the EU-US Privacy Shield permits the bulk collection of personal data by US authorities in several cases. Such bulk collection must only be “as tailored as feasible” and “reasonable”, which falls short of the stricter criteria of necessity and proportionality under EU data protection laws;
  •  the redress mechanisms provided for in the EU-US Privacy Shield are overly complex and not user-friendly and effective;
  •  the Ombudsperson appointed by the EU-US Privacy Shield is not sufficiently independent, and is not vested with adequate powers to effectively exercise and enforce its duty.

The European Parliament therefore urges the European Commission to continue the negotiations with US authorities so as to obtain further improvements to the EU-US Privacy Shield.

This resolution gets added to the growing chorus of voices that criticise the Privacy Shield. The question is now whether the European Commission will take these comments to heart and try to renegotiate the EU-US Privacy Shield – and whether US authorities will be willing to enter into such renegotiations. If the European Commission would decide to adopt the EU-US Privacy Shield as is, several privacy advocates have already announced that they will bring proceedings to challenge the validity of the EU-US Privacy Shield. To be continued…