A lot has happened since the European Court of Justice’s declaration that the EU-US safe harbor framework is invalid (see related post).
First, the Article 29 Working Party, an organization comprised of representatives from each data protection authority in the EU, issued a statement late last week indicating that since transfers relying on safe harbor are now unlawful, companies transferring EU citizens’ data to the U.S. may use the EU Standard Contractual Clauses or Model Clauses and Binding Corporate Rules on an interim basis until negotiations over a new safe harbor framework are complete. Further, it declared that if a new framework cannot be agreed upon by the end of January, 2016, it will exercise the powers vested in them to investigate complaints and enforce violations.
Second, the Irish High Court asked the country’s Data Protection Commissioner to investigate Facebook to determine whether the personal data of EU Facebook users was properly protected when transferred to the U.S.
Third, Israel’s data protection authority this week declared “[p]ursuant to the European decision, it is no longer permissible to rely on the safe harbor as a basis for transfers of personal data from Israel to the U.S.” It further announced that it, “will publish information and additional clarifications if necessary.”
And finally, on Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Judicial Redress Act, which, if enacted, would give citizens of foreign countries covered under data sharing agreements with the U.S. the ability to sue the U.S. government for privacy violations if their information is shared with the U.S. for law enforcement purposes. This was one of the reasons cited by the European Court of Justice in striking down the safe harbor framework. It brings the U.S. in line with its allies, who allow U.S. citizens redress for privacy violations in other countries.
We anticipate that there will continue to be a flurry of activity around the safe harbor framework. We will continue to update you on developments as they occur.