EU Commissioner Plans to Assess U.S. Privacy Shield Commitments
In an interview with Politico, EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová, one of the principal architects of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, indicated that she plans to visit the U.S. once the Trump Administration is in place to assess the state of the new administration’s commitment to the Privacy Shield. In the interview, Jourová indicated that she would seek to ensure that the U.S. maintains a “culture of privacy” under the new administration, and that the U.S. government would continue to adhere to its commitments with regard to U.S. law enforcement and surveillance activities that were included within the Privacy Shield framework.
The Privacy Shield was based in part on a series of letters published by various Obama Administration officials relating to oversight and enforcement of the Privacy Shield Principles by the U.S. government. These letters were included as annexes to the Commission Implementing Decision that forms the legal basis for the Privacy Shield in the EU, and are posted to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Privacy Shield website. They include a letter from the Department of State to Commissioner Jourová describing the new Privacy Shield Ombudsperson designated to field inquiries from the EU regarding U.S. signals intelligence practices, and letters from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (Letter 1; Letter 2) and the Department of Justice describing safeguards and limitations applicable to U.S. national security authorities and law enforcement authorities, respectively.
The Privacy Shield already faces a legal challenge in the European Court of Justice, where the commitments by U.S. government authorities are expected to be carefully scrutinized. It remains to be seen whether the incoming Trump Administration will maintain the commitments made by the Obama Administration in the various letters incorporated into the Privacy Shield.