Switzerland has agreed its own new data transfer agreement with the United States, basing the framework on the deal struck by the European Union (EU) following the invalidation of Safe Harbour.
The previous arrangement was invalidated because of concerns about US mass surveillance but Switzerland says the new Swiss-US Privacy Shield will allow Swiss companies to transfer customer data without the need for additional contractual guarantees.
The Swiss Federal Council, a seven member executive council that is effectively the head of government in Switzerland, claim citizens will benefit from additional protections and the ability to contact an ombudsman about data issues.
“The Swiss-US Privacy Shield is needed for the secure, efficient and rapid transfer of data,” said the council. “The USA does not have legislation on data protection that guarantees an adequate level of protection in terms of Swiss law.”
The agreement could hint at future legislation for the UK post Brexit, whenever that happens and whatever form it may take.
Although not part of the EU, Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and has several bilateral agreements with the EU that sees it adopt many of the bigger bloc’s policies. The Federal Council says the alignment between the EU and the Swiss transatlantic data sharing partnerships is good news for multinational organisations.
“The fact that the two frameworks are similar is highly significant, as it guarantees the same general conditions for persons and businesses in Switzerland and the EU/EEA area in relation to trans-Atlantic data flows,” it said.
The invalidation of Safe Harbour caused considerable disruption for cloud and tech companies who relied on the legislation to operate in Europe. However Privacy shield was finally adopted last July following complaints from member states that the original proposals were not strict enough.
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