EU will watch the Privacy Shield agreement for a year before challenging it

EU flags in front of the European Commission

What is Privacy Shield?

For those not in the know, the Privacy Shield is an agreement that allows companies to transfer personal data from the European Union to the United States. Put forward in late February of this year, the Privacy Shield was designed to make it easy (and safe) for companies and organizations to transfer data across the Atlantic.

Social media giants (among others) like Facebook and Twitter will be allowed to move EU data to their home servers back in the US. Privacy Shield will ensure that European data remains protected to the same standard as it was on home soil.

Critiques and concerns 

The Privacy Shield agreement was put forward as a replacement for the International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, which were in place for more than 15 years. Earlier last year, Safe Harbor was struck down after leaks revealed that data was subject to United States surveillance, proving that it was not sufficient to protect EU citizen’s data.

While the Privacy Shield is a certain improvement on the Safe Harbor, there are still some major concerns that need to be considered.

For starters, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, said that “the Privacy Shield as it stands is not robust enough to withstand future legal scrutiny before the court.” Other areas of concern relate to the deletion and collection of massive amounts of data, and the very vague description of the ombudsman mechanism, put in place to handle complaints.  

What’s next?

Despite these concerns, the Privacy Shield was approved by EU Member States representatives earlier this month, paving the way for the adoption of the decision by the EU Commission.

As of this week, EU governments have officially stated that the deal will remain in place for at least a year. Regulators announced that the agreement will not be challenged until its first annual review next summer.

When the year is up, regulators will either green light the deal, make modifications, or ditch it altogether. It’s uncertain what’s going to happen, but for now, US companies have a whole year to take advantage of the agreement – a decision that they’re certainly pleased with.

Possible outcomes

The fact that the government won’t act on the agreement until next summer doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of it being attacked in the interim by a third party. There are a number of organizations that might challenge the legality of the Privacy Shield, after all that’s exactly what happened with the Safe Harbor deal, causing it to be struck down.

There’s no predicting the final decision of the watchdogs, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the Privacy Shield holds up over the next year. For now, you can take some steps to protect your own data. The easiest and most cost-efficient way of securing your online presence is by using a VPN. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this comprehensive guide.

 

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