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EU, US adopt Privacy Shield pact

The European Union and the U.S. government have finallyadopted the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreementon transatlantic data transfers.

In a July 12 statement announcing the pact's bilateralapproval, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová said the agreement sets thehighest standards in protecting Europeans' personal data transferred to theU.S.

Meanwhile, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said thesame day that American companies will be given time to review the new agreement'sprovisions. Her department will start accepting self-certifications ofcompliance to the Privacy Shield on Aug. 1.

"With new privacy protections in place, we areconfident the Framework will withstand further scrutiny," Pritzker said.

However, European MP Jan-Philipp Albrecht and Austrianprivacy activist Max Schrems said in a July 12 opinion piece for The Irish Times (Dublin) that the ECshould postpone the Privacy Shield's implementation "until more work isdone on the U.S. side."

Albrecht and Schrems argued that the framework underminesdata protection, as it grants U.S. firms a general blanket approval to use andshare European citizens' data for generic purposes. The two also questioned thepact's use of the same wording on mass surveillance laws in the former SafeHarbor agreement, as well as the independence of an ombudsperson who willhandle U.S. surveillance issues. The said official will be an undersecretary ofthe U.S. government.

Albrecht and Schrems believe that unless its loopholes arefixed, the Privacy Shield accord could also be by the Court of Justice of theEuropean Union just like the Safe Harbor pact.