August 23, 2014

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The European Union (EU) seeks Strengthening of Safe Harbor Rules

The European Union (EU) has launched a commission to review the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Safe Harbor agreement. The review comes in the wake of PRISM, the National Security Agency’s data collection program.  Safe Harbor is a voluntary program for U.S.-based companies with operations in the EU to transfer personal data across EU borders.

The EU argues that the Safe Harbor program may be using “loopholes” to skirt EU data privacy rules.  The International Trade Association (ITA), acknowledges the “criticisms,” but disagrees, saying that the program operates within its framework.  Safe Harbor is based on the EU Data Protection Directive, and, as noted by the ITA, is limited when national security or defense matters are in question.

EU officials would like to review Safe Harbor for compatibility with new EU laws on data protection.  While the U.S. is open to discussions on Safe Harbor, it is not likely that they will tighten any restrictions on it.

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