EU And US Miss Deadline To Reach ‘Safe Harbour 2.0’ Agreement

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Data transfers between EU and US could be restricted until Safe Harbour 2 is finalised

The European Union (EU) and the US have missed a deadline to negotiate a new data transfer agreement to replace ‘Safe Harbour’, which was ruled to be invalid by a European court last October amid surveillance fears.

European data protection laws dictate that EU citizen’s personal information cannot be shared with countries deemed to have less than stringent privacy regulations, such as the US, but Safe Harbour allowed some data to circumvent these restrictions to be transmitted across the Atlantic.

Safe Harbour 2.0

data centreMore than 4,000 companies, including tech giants Amazon, Facebook and Google, were reliant on the legislation, which had been in place for 15 years. But concerns about US state surveillance prompted a renegotiation of the agreement before its invalidation.

Negotiators had until the end of January to come up with a replacement and talks have been ongoing. However Reuters says the scope of the role of a proposed ombudsman to oversee the new agreement has caused the delay.

The EU wants the ombudsman to be able to make findings on US surveillance and not just complaints from European citizens and data protection authorities as the US is suggesting. It is thought that a deal is close, but data sharing between the EU and US could be restricted until a new agreement has been finalised.

The suspension Safe Harbour certainly caused a great deal of anxiety for many firms. Even more concerning is that firms could potentially face legal action over the matter.

The British data protection watchdog last year sought to reassure British businesses, and the EC has also published its own guidelines for firms, but it has effectively warned that the current Safe Harbour deal is dead and buried, and should not be used.

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