US, EU trade groups warn of ‘enormous’ consequences if data pact talks fail

EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Guenther Oettinger speaks at a news conference on the Digital Single Market Strategy at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 09 December 2015.

US, EU trade groups warn of ‘enormous’ consequences if data pact talks fail


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The largest American and European trade groups – the US Chamber of Commerce, Business Europe, Digital Europe and the Information Technology Industry Council – warned of “enormous” consequences for thousands of businesses and millions of users if Brussels and Washington fail to wrap up talks on a data transfer pact by the end of the month.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the EU and the US accelerated negotiations on a new framework enabling firms to easily transfer personal data across the Atlantic after the previous one was struck down by a top EU court last year on concerns about US snooping.

Under European Union data protection law, companies cannot transfer EU citizens’ personal data to countries outside the bloc deemed to have insufficient privacy safeguards, of which the United States is one.

EU data protection authorities gave Brussels and Washington until the end of January to forge a new pact and businesses the same deadline to set up alternative legal channels to transfer personal data across the Atlantic, such as binding corporate rules within multinationals or model clauses, reported Reuters.

While a political agreement may be possible in that time, ironing out the legal details will take longer, according to a person familiar with the talks.

EU privacy regulators are scheduled to meet on February 2 to decide if they should start taking enforcement action against companies if they come to the conclusion that all transfer mechanisms fall foul of EU law and there is no new framework in place.

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