US and EU leaders reach agreement on transatlantic data privacy

US and EU leaders said on Friday they had reached an “agreement in principle” to ensure it is legal to transfer personal data across the Atlantic, after a previous pact was overturned when a court ruled it was not doing enough to protect Europeans from US surveillance programs.

President Biden told a press conference in Brussels that the deal includes “unprecedented privacy and data security protections for our citizens.”

The deal includes a way for Europeans to object if they feel their privacy has been breached, including through an “independent data protection review tribunal,” the White House said in a statement. an information sheet published after the press conference. The deal has yet to be finalized, the United States and the European Commission said. in a joint statementadding that the White House would record its commitments in an executive order.

Companies that send data from the European Union to US servers have been pushing governments to reach a new deal. Since the last pact was canceled more than 18 months ago, regulators in European countries have said that companies cannot use certain web services, like Google Analytics and Mailchimp, because it could violate privacy rights. of Europeans.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said this year it could shut down its services in Europe if governments don’t resolve their differences. Google’s top lawyer had called for “swift action to restore a practical framework that both protects privacy and promotes prosperity.”

Friday’s announcement is the latest development in a long debate about how far governments and tech companies should go to protect user privacy. Europe’s top court has twice struck down pacts governing data flows between the United States and the European Union, over concerns the data could be exposed to US surveillance programs.

“With growing concern over the global fragmentation of the internet, this agreement will help keep people connected and services running,” said Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, wrote on Twitter. “It will provide invaluable certainty to US and European businesses of all sizes, including Meta, that rely on fast and secure data transfer.”

But it was unclear whether the new pact would be enough to satisfy privacy campaigners’ concerns. Max Schrems, an activist whose Noyb (as in: ‘none of your business’) group led efforts to invalidate transatlantic deals, said in a statement that he was skeptical of the deal and that his organization would analyze carefully the details. .

“If it’s not in line with EU law, we or another group will probably challenge it,” he said.

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