Brussels 07.02.2019

Transatlantic Dialogue: USA and EU Need Synchronized Data Protection

With protectionist sentiments threatening a digital trade war between the EU and US, the Transatlantic Dialogue roundtable series has brought together important government and industry representatives today in Brussels to productively discuss common interests and the existing EU-US Privacy Shield framework.

To foster intelligent and productive discussion, eco – Association of the Internet Industry and its US partner association, the i2Coalition, have announced three Transatlantic Dialogues – roundtables aimed at fostering a more intensive interchange between government and industry, and a synchronization of regulatory initiatives in the area of data protection on both sides of the Atlantic. The first Transatlantic Dialogue happened today at European Parliament in Brussels.

The next will take place on 12 February 2019 in Berlin, and a third is planned for Washington D.C. later this year.

The central topic of discussion is the future of Privacy Shield, which was put in place in 2016 because U.S. privacy laws were found not to provide adequate levels of privacy under EU law. Privacy Shield is currently one of the most important legal foundations for the exchange of personal data between EU Member States and the US. All businesses involved in the exchange and storage of personal data rely on this framework, making it vitally important.

There is also an increasing likelihood that the US will enact privacy laws and regulations similar to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), yet it is unclear when they will be enacted and if they will meet the adequacy requirement of EU laws. In the meantime, European supervisory authorities are imposing fines set out in GDPR on many companies, including those from the US.

Oliver Süme, Chair of the eco Board, said today during the first Transatlantic Dialogue: “We are currently experiencing a lot of movement in the regulatory debate on transatlantic data protection, both on the US side, and in the EU. This is leading to great uncertainty for companies. At the same time, the evaluation of the Privacy Shield has just recently shown that this agreement has proven its merits. So before we in the EU jump into a digital trade war with overseas states through protectionist measures, we should instead synchronize our common interests and strengthen the existing Privacy Shield.”

eco and i2Coalition believe every future data protection agreement between the US and the EU should, in the eyes of both associations, be to create long-term legal certainty for companies and at the same time to create an effective regulation for the protection of personal data.

“The transatlantic data protection discussion is currently strongly overshadowed by rhetoric and misunderstanding,” added David Snead, Co-Founder and Policy Working Group member representative at i2Coalition. “It is therefore time to build a bridge between European and US political decision makers, and to bring them together at one table to discuss these questions, in order to develop an understanding of shared privacy goals,” Snead continued. The Transatlantic Dialogues would in his view offer the ideal context for this.

The event was the first of three Transatlantic Dialogues. The next Transatlantic Dialogue, also with a focus on the EU-US Privacy Shield, will take place on 12 February 2019 in Berlin. A third event is planned to take place in Washington D.C. later this year.

Further information on the next Transatlantic Dialogue and registration can be found here.

Transatlantic Dialogue: USA und EU Need Synchronized Data Protection