EU and U.S. agree to new data-sharing pact, offering some respite for Big Tech
- For over a year, officials on either side of the Atlantic have been hashing out a deal to replace the so-called Privacy Shield.
- Privacy Shield, an arrangement allowing firms to share Europeans’ data to the U.S., was invalidated in July 2020.
- Meta had warned it may shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe over uncertainty surrounding EU-U.S. data flows.
The European Union and the U.S. on Friday announced they had agreed “in principle” to a new framework for cross-border data transfers, providing some much-needed relief for tech giants like Meta and Google.
For over a year, officials on either side of the Atlantic have been hashing out a deal to replace the so-called Privacy Shield, an arrangement allowing firms to share Europeans’ data to the U.S.
Privacy Shield was invalidated in July 2020, striking a blow to Facebook and other companies that had relied on the mechanism for their EU-U.S. data flows. The EU’s top court sided with Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist who argued the existing framework did not protect Europeans from U.S. surveillance.
“This framework underscores our shared commitment to privacy, to data protection, and to the rule of law,” President Joe Biden said Friday, adding the smooth flow of data would “help facilitate $7.1 trillion in economic relationships with the EU.”
The new agreement will “enable predictable and trustworthy data flows between the EU and US, safeguarding privacy and civil liberties,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday, without offering much additional detail on how it will work.
News of the agreement will offer some respite for Meta and a slew of other firms which have faced legal uncertainty over how they move data across borders in the wake of the decision to scrap Privacy Shield. Meta had suggested it may even have to shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe over the issue.
Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said the deal “will provide invaluable certainty for American & European companies of all sizes, including Meta, who rely on transferring data quickly and safely.”