JUL 16, 2020 | US | EUROPEAN UNION
EU Court Ruling Strikes Blow to Trans-Atlantic Data Flows
Politico, July 16, 2020
By Vincent Manancourt
Europe's top court handed down a searing verdict on US surveillance powers on Thursday, ruling for the second time that EU data would not be safe from snooping under a transatlantic data protection deal.
The ruling, which cancels the Privacy Shield agreement, throws billions of dollars in digital trade into legal limbo and reignites a spat over surveillance that dates back more than five years to US whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations about American spying.
The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Privacy Shield — which replaced an earlier data transfer agreement called Safe Harbor — did not offer adequate protection for EU data when it was shipped overseas because US surveillance law were too intrusive.
In the same ruling, the Luxembourg-based court upheld the legality of instruments used to export data out of Europe, called Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). But it required EU privacy watchdogs to suspend data transfers to any country where EU standards cannot be met, opening the way for challenges based on the surveillance systems of other countries.
Reaction from industry was mixed.
Thomas Boué, a policy wonk at influential tech lobby BSA | The Software Alliance said the invalidation of the Privacy Shield is "removing one of the most flexible and trusted compliance mechanisms, which are widely used by SMEs for transatlantic business."
He called on data protection authorities to release guidance and to hold off enforcing the ruling for a grace period, like they did after Safe Harbor was struck down.
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