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New EU-US data transfer deal

February 2, 2016

Brussels and Washington have agreed upon a new system to protect data transfers from Europe to the US. The new deal replaces "Safe Harbor," a 15-year-old framework struck down by the European Court of Justice last year.

Image: Fotolia/Calado

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova announced the latest deal in a message on Twitter.

The new deal, called the EU-US "Privacy Shield" would replace the older "Safe Harbor" agreement, Jourova told journalists in Brussels on Tuesday.

The US had given "binding assurances" for the first time and said public authorities' access to data would be subject to "clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms," the commissioner said.

Companies would be expected to abide by data protection rules and would be threatened with expulsion if they fail to comply. Citizens would also have several avenues to redress their complaints, if they felt their data had been misused. If the company in question did not resolve the problem, citizens could raise their issue with EU data protection authorities.

An arbitration mechanism was also being planned for such complaints, Jourova added. Additionally the US judicial redress act, once passed, would give EU citizens the right to approach courts in the US with their complaints.

The agreement still needs to be approved by the EU's 28 member states before it comes into force.

Until now, companies were using "Safe Harbor" to conduct their business across the Atlantic. The pact was established in 2000 and regulates data sharing between EU and US companies. It was struck down last November after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the deal did not safeguard the interests of EU citizens.

Distrust regarding transatlantic data transfers cropped up in 2013, after revelations that US intelligence agencies had conducted mass spying.

mg/ng (dpa, AFP)