The European Union said on Monday it agreed in principle with the US on a new trans-Atlantic data transfer pact that’s still in the works, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this month, a European court invalidated Safe Harbor, a 15-year old agreement that included laws which allowed technology companies to move user data between data centers if they guaranteed it would receive an “adequate level” of protection.
The ruling came after Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems brought a case against Facebook in Ireland claiming that his privacy had been violated by the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. Following the court’s decision, Irish authorities said last week that they plan to investigate the social network’s data transfers under the act.
Speaking about the new pact, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told European lawmakers, “There is agreement on these matters in principle, but we are still discussing how to ensure that these commitments are binding enough to fully meet the requirements of the court.”
Jourova added that she expected both sides to make progress on the remaining technical points of discussion by mid-November, when she is scheduled to visit the US. For their part, national data privacy regulators have set a deadline at the end of January for the European bloc and the US to replace Safe Harbor.
Other terms set to feature in the new deal include guidelines for the way companies inform customers about how their data is handled, mechanisms to address data transfer-related issues free of charge as well as strict rules governing the onward transfer of data to additional parties.
Jourova also said the pact would put in place an annual review system run by US and EU authorities to monitor whether law enforcement and national security services complied with limits on access to Europeans’ data.
While it might take a few months, a new pact will make it easier for US-based tech companies to continue running their businesses in Europe without having to set up and manage new data centers in the continent — provided they comply with all the rules that the European Commission is set to announce next year.
➤ EU, U.S. Agree in Principle on New Data-Transfer Pact [The Wall Street Journal]